There are many variations on the general concept of "Pranayama Meditation" -- The meditation of the breath. At Meditation Treks, we have released the Healing Breathwork Album, which creates an oxygen rich environment in the body while guiding you through this state of consciousness with meditations that focus the mind on different cognitive behavioral states to clear old patterns and establish new ones. The pranayama practice of the Breathwork album is strikingly similar to (though not exactly the same as) the "Wim Hof Method" of breathing, invented by its namesake, Wim Hof. While the GMT Breathwork album focuses on improving mind patterns through a breath that acts on the heart, the Wim Hof method focuses on improving the cardiovascular system itself through a breathing practice that also includes breath suspension. In this blog we present the background as well as a free guided meditation from Wim Hof himself, which you can try at home.
While pranayama is at the heart of the Wim Hof method, he also advocates for "cold therapy" where the practitioner spends time taking cold showers, or even ice baths. Hof believes that cold therapy combines with the pranayama breath to build the cardiovascular system so that it can keep the body's core temperature stable while not being affected by outside shifts in temperature. His claims about the benefits of the Wim Hof method include the following
Differences from Healing Breathwork
Similar to the Healing Breathwork practice of Meditation Treks originating from "The Reluctant Healer," David Elliott, the Wim Hof method has the practitioner breathing entirely through the mouth using the 3-stage breath of inhaling first into the belly, then into the chest, and finally letting go of the air to exhale. However, it is slightly different in that Hof doesn't separate the two inhalations. Instead, he describes the pattern more as a "wave" where your single inhalation moves from the lower belly to the upper belly without any separation or pause between inhalations and exhalations. He also describes it as a "circular" with the air moving quickly through the system.
The other main difference is that in the middle of the practice, the breath is suspended for a minimum of 1 minute and up to the maximum that the practitioner can hold it. Then, the practitioner inhales a full breath for 15 seconds before relaxing and doing the cycle again. It's a bit more clinical and almost "athletic" than the introspective Healing Breathwork, but very similar. Both provide similar benefits to the cardiovascular system, as well as create a "natural high" as the body's oxygen and carbon dioxide levels are manipulated through the process. Breathwork meditations do a great job in improving energy levels because of the oxygenation of the body.
Try it yourself
The beauty of the Wim Hof method is that you can try it in only 15 minutes with his free video that demonstrates the method. If you like it, you can also check out his website and app for more exercises, where he also advocates ice baths, cold showers, and some yoga postures for stretching and inversion. Or, you can just keep doing the free one here, because that IS the breathing part of the Wim Hof method! The Wim Hof method is a great pranayama practice to add to your repertoire of meditation practices. Try it now!
Watch the Breath
Articles on mindfulness meditation.