MY YEAR ON A WIM

I started Wim Hoff breathing about a year ago.  Yep, you guessed it, on a whim.  Wim Hoff is a Dutch guy who claims to be able to hack the human immune system using a breathing and retention sequence.  I am someone who was diagnosed as having asthma in my 40s.  I was told by multiple health and allied professionals that I would always have it because I’d had it all my life – untreated.   This has resulted in residual inflammation that, without the help of preventive asthma treatment, I will never get rid of.

I have never been one to accept anything at face value.  I’d been annoyed at being held hostage by asthma.  I knew my triggers included smoke, cold, and change of season hay fever.  I lived in Canberra – Australia – a cold, dry climate that is notorious for hay fever over the last 20 years – a lot.  I did notice that when I worked in the tropics for a couple of years asthma all but disappeared.   When I made a small change in location – like to drive to Sydney around 300 kilometres away  – the bit of extra warmth and humidity made me breathe easier.  Now you could argue that was just being out of Canberra but that’s a whole other thing.

As soon as my finances allowed it, I left Canberra and headed back to South Australia. I’d grown up there and it was a heap warmer.   Part one of my asthma management strategy was in play.    My asthma was better in that I could go on and off my preventer medication.  But I was sick of relying on drugs or supplements so I started researching breathwork.  Which is how I came across Wim Hoff.

I was pretty cynical.  Throughout this whole asthma journey, I’ve been practicing yoga.  I’d done a lot of breathwork.  My Canberra-based doctor told me at one point that I probably would have needed more medication and a lot earlier had I not done so.  I couldn’t believe that something so simple would be better than all that breathwork.  But I watched my partner come off his preventer (not saying it’s permanent or encouraging anyone who needs medication to stop).  I got curious.

Part two of my asthma management strategy went into play.  I found the Wim Hoff app and did a simple breathing sequence that took me no more than 10 minutes each morning.   The difference was noticeable and immediate.  I had NEVER been able to hold my breath for longer than 30 seconds.   Within the first month, I could hold my breath 3 times that.  Just that made me feel that there was some chance I might be in charge of my asthma more often.  After a few weeks, I was able to wean myself off the preventer – most of the time.  If I got a cold, a period, or hit a bad allergy patch I would go back on it for a while and then wean myself off.  Most of the time I didn’t need it though, I only needed Ventolin after I ran.  My use of antihistamines fell to about twice weekly after 10 or more years of daily use.

Apart from not needing as much medication, weirdly enough, I found that I engaged more with my own respiratory system.  Doing the breathwork meant that I worked out early in the day exactly where my breath was at.  If it was good, I got on with my day.  If it was less good, I had a hot shower to clear my airways, took a natural remedy and waited.  If I still felt bad, I took an antihistamine.   About  3 weeks ago, I got a rotten cold.  I immediately called my doctor and got a script for a preventer.  I watched my breath and within a couple of days went back onto the preventer.  I knew I needed it early and was able to avoid that awful period of wheezing and coughing and not sleeping accompanied by quiet panic.  It’s a familiar scenario for any asthmatic.  I am currently in the process of weaning myself off it again.

I haven’t had a dramatic increase in the length of my breath retention.  It is just inching up the more I practice.  But I know now that the quality of the breath in the body is very changeable and anything you can do to help smooth that out is most definitely not a whim.  I will be carrying on with Wim Hoff breathing as long as there is breath in my body.  Hopefully, a lot more of it.

Published by younghyndman

I live in Adelaide, South Australia. I'm a lapsed executive, emerging writer and a social justice yoga teacher. I am as free as bird, happily partnered and love being out in the fresh air and travelling - shame about that last one for a little while! I've been published on the Canberra Women's Poetry website, Catherine Deveney's website and, yes indeed, in the South Australian Astrology magazine. I am currently pulling together my dirty haiku and working up another draft of my novel Dreams, Schemes and Flying Machines.

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