Question: About a month ago, I decided to do the Wim Hof Method. As a result, I started to hyperventilate all the time. Every time I become aware of my breath, I begin to breathe very deeply and quickly. Sometimes I feel like I need to breathe from my mouth; it’s a feeling of being hungry for air. I also noticed a decline in my cognitive functions, difficulty concentrating, and even hyperactivity. Walking up a set of stairs has become an extremely challenging experience. Now, I have inhalation problems when falling asleep, and my heart is always racing. Can Wim Hof’s method be detrimental to health?
Sasha: I received this question from a very young man in good physical shape. I was slightly surprised by how strongly Wim Hof’s method affected his health; however, I was not surprised that it had impacted it negatively. The Wim Hof method is becoming increasingly popular, and as a result of it, I receive more letters and phone calls from people who are developing problems applying it. So, can the Wim Hof method injure your breathing and health?
My answer is: yes, it can. It does not mean that the method is not valuable; in fact, I believe that it is beneficial for people whose breathing is already strong. As many advanced yoga breathing practices, the Wim Hof method can make strong and healthy breathing even stronger and healthier. Nevertheless, if your breathing is weak, the method can make it weaker. You need to be extremely careful applying any advanced breathing techniques of yoga. If your morning Positive Maximum Pause is below 40 seconds, I advise not to play with these techniques.
Remember that Dr. Buteyko compared the power of breathing with the power of radiation. Breathing correctly, he said, can boost your health quickly, but breathing incorrectly for your condition can injure it very fast. If a specific breathing technique does not increase your morning Positive Maximum Pause, don’t do it!