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The Risks of the Wim Hof Method: Breathwork, Anxiety & The Nervous System

The article "The Risks of the Wim Hof Method: Read Before You Breathe" by Jonathan Carson discusses the potential risks of the Wim Hof Method (WHM), a breathing technique that has been shown to have a number of health benefits. The author, who has experienced some of the negative effects of the WHM himself, argues that it is important to be aware of these risks before starting the practice.

"After practicing WHM for a few days straight, the energy and alertness gave way to a kind of jittery anxiety, almost like I’d had a few too many coffees."

Some of the potential risks of the WHM include:

  • Palpitations: The rapid breathing associated with the WHM can cause an increase in heart rate, which can lead to palpitations.

  • Dizziness: The deep breathing can also lead to dizziness, lightheadedness, or even fainting.

  • Anxiety: The WHM can trigger anxiety or panic attacks in some people.

  • Trauma response: If you have experienced trauma, the WHM could potentially trigger a flashback or other negative emotional response.

The author of the article argues that these risks are heightened if you are already experiencing stress, anxiety, or depression. He also notes that the WHM should not be practiced if you have any underlying health conditions, such as high blood pressure or heart disease.

"I was confused as to how a breathwork practice as widely promoted as the WHM could result in feelings of increased anxiety, stress and fear."

If you are considering trying the WHM, it is important to do your research and be aware of the potential risks. The author of the article recommends starting with a short practice and gradually increasing the duration as you become more comfortable with the technique. He also suggests that you practice the WHM in a safe environment with someone who can help you if you experience any negative side effects.

If you wish to learn about various breathing techniques that activate the sympathetic (fight, flight, freeze or fight) nervous system, or the parasympathetic (rest, digest, relax) nervous systems schedule a session with BreateAware.

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Photo credit and original article by Jonathan Carson can be found at:

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