by Niraj Naik
One of my favourite movies as a child was Superman. Which guy doesn’t secretly want to be like him growing up?
However I was more like Clark Kent rather than any real superhero. I also had my fair share of bullying being the smallest in the class. Perhaps this is where my fascination with superheroes and becoming superhuman began – survival!
Was this guy a real superhuman?
I assumed possessing miraculous super powers was a thing of fiction, until I came across a book called The Autobiography Of A Yogi, by Yogananda, a mystic from India who is famed for bringing indian spirituality to the West. In this book he speaks of superhuman yogis with incredible abilities to control their own physiology and display remarkable feats of strength and stamina. A deeper practice of yoga can lead to the development of superhuman powers know as ‘siddhi’.
My interest was further magnified when I became housebound with a chronic illness and the medication had stopped working. I needed a solution and remarkably the only thing that worked was when I began to practice ancient breathing techniques. It felt like I developed some of these powers myself after I suddenly began to heal.
The Search For Real Super Humans
Curing myself motivated me to go even deeper and see if some of these super human yogis really do exist. My search involved travels across several continents from East Asia to America and Europe.
It also involved debunking several charlatans, fake gurus and even educational franchises teaching ‘siddhi’ built on magic tricks rather than legitimate super powers. However I also discovered some people and things which completely shook up my understanding of science and human physiology.
In this new series of articles you are going to discover the real deal on what it takes to become ‘superhuman’, something which has been kept a close guarded secret for many 1000’s of years, until now.
Meet The Iceman – The Renegade Podcast Episode 001 – Wim Hof
TRP Episode 000 – Intro
TRP Episode 001 – Wim Hof
I thought I would start this series off with a real superhuman proven by science to have an incredible control over his own physiology and autonomic nervous system.
A real life superman called Wim Hof aka The Iceman, who has broken 26 world records including running a full marathon, (without prior training) above the polar circle in sub zero arctic temperatures and running another full marathon in the desert without water.
He’s even climbed Mount Everest in his shorts and demonstrated his immunity to a bacterial endotoxin at will, proving scientifically for the first time we can influence our own autonomic nervous system and the immune system with the power of our mind.
The most interesting thing is that Wim Hof started off as a normal guy who developed his own method to create siddhi powers possessed like the famed yogi’s described by Yogananda. Wim claims his method can be taught to anyone and its application in our modern world that currently has an epidemic rise in chronic disease, where medication provides an embarrassing rate of success with side effects worse that the symptoms in many cases, Wim Hof’s method is more important now than ever before.
If the anecdotal results are anything to go by, from the 10,000+ members Wim Hof now haslearning his method, that includes celebs like Oprah, Rick Rubin, Orlando Bloom, many chronic diseases sufferers and normal everyday people looking to get the edge. We now have a very powerful scalable system for helping every-day people unlock the power to control their own physiology and improve their health like never before.
The Renegade Pharmacist team training with Wim Hof
This first article is based on my recent time spent with Wim Hof at his retreat in Holland where I stayed nearly a week with him, studying his techniques, the science behind them, and also more importantly from the feeling I received after doing them intensely in his company. We also delved deep into the language of the soul and co-created music, discussed art and scriptures. I got to know Wim on a much deeper level and discovered more about Wim Hof as a person, and his personal mission to help people have more love, strength and happiness.
What Happens One Hour After Doing The Wim Hof Method
30 – 60 seconds – Pump Your Body With Vital Oxygen.
Deep breathwork for 30-50 cycles leads to acid forming carbon dioxide leaving your system and vital oxygen flooding your body, alkalising your system. Respiratory alkalosis is associated with a variety of health benefits. You also expel stagnant gases from your gut, exercise your abdomen and also gently massage and invigorate your digestive system. At first you may feel lightheaded and may be even slightly euphoric.
By practicing the breathing technique you will influence the ratio between O2 and CO2 in the blood. Based on scientific research [Kox et al.,2012] Wim Hof’s blood levels indicated after 30 minutes of breathwork, a significantly low dose of CO2 in the blood. After an hour the CO2 levels were even lower. On top of this the amount of O2 consumption has doubled after 45 minutes.
60s – 3 mins – Still breath, still mind, inner peace.
The retention phase lasting around 1-2 minutes, lowers the oxygen tension in your blood. This signals your brain to awaken every cell and blood vessel in your body. This acts like a reset switch bringing you back into harmony. Just like giving your computer a quick defrag or restart when it slows down.
You feel a sense of calm and inner peace from deep within the brain and body. You may be able to say goodbye to sleeping pills and relaxants after doing this.
2 – 3 minutes – Energy rush
Your body signals that you now need more oxygen. Inhaling deeply makes fresh oxygen rush into your lungs, giving a sudden euphoric rush of vitality to every organ in your body, especially your brain.
A controlled release of adrenaline gives you a natural ‘high’
As your blood is now filled with carbon dioxide from respiration, a diffusion gradient is created, expelling acidic carbon dioxide with vital oxygen rushing into every cell of your body. This releases energy in the most efficient way humanly possible!
3mins – 20 minutes – Feels Good, Lets Do It Again!
Repeat the process for at least 20 minutes for best results.
As you repeat the process you now feel more relaxed but alert with more energy and a pleasant glowing feeling inside. A bit like a cup of green tea or a morning coffee, without any of the jitters, cravings or side effects.
Special stretching and strengthening exercises creates a more toned and fitter body.
20 – 25mins – Cold is your new warm friend.
Time for a cold shower, or if you are feeling brave, may be a dip in the ice bath?
Cold therapy using cold showers or ice baths, tricks your body, switching on your survival mode. You begin to produce health promoting brown fat and become a super efficient fat burning machine. This improves metabolic efficiency, boosting vital health markers, increasing your growth hormone and testosterone levels, lowering inflammation, releasing endorphins and happy hormones like dopamine.
This is why the Himalayan Sherpas who live in extreme cold conditions and why athletes like Lance Armstrong and Michael Phelps use cold therapy to create superhuman strength and endurance.
Pickkers a dutch scientist studying Wim Hof discovered that Wim Hof’s cold therapy using a combination of cold exposure and mental concentration techniques showed significantly lower levels of inflammatory proteins when compared to using just the concentration technique alone, showing cold exposure is essential for its inflammatory benefits.
Results also showed a reduction in cytokine production by white blood cells after just 6 days. Cytokines are involved in the regulation of the inflammatory response and high levels are associated with diseases of inflammation like arthritis, colitis and Crohn’s.
30> Viva Las Vagus
Your most important nerve, the vagus nerve is stimulated. With further practice you can learn to control it and your own autonomic nervous system, with some astonishing results.
With meditation/visualization techniques you can create a controlled stress response meaning you can suppress an overactive immune system or activate it whenever there is a threat. You can even learn to change your core body temperature, create super human strength and stamina, raise or lower your heart rate, and switch off stress at will.
Scientists say that the most exciting development in medical research is vagus nerve stimulation with pharmaceutical giant, Glaxo investing over $50 million into companies trying to create expensive electronic devices. With this method you have a far superior version free of charge, with zero negative side effects.
Researchers at Raboud University have investigated the influence of Wim Hof’s concentration technique on the activity of his autonomic nervous system and immune system. During the experiment a sample of E-coli bacteria were injected into Wim Hof and 12 trial participants.
Normally this would result in an over reaction by the immune system, resulting in flu symptoms (headache, fever, muscle pain) for a number of hours. However Hof only suffered a mild headache at the time when the flu symptoms would normally be at their strongest. The results also showed Wim Hof produced half the number of inflammatory proteins in comparison to the average of the test subjects who were injected with this bacterium.
The hypothesis was that Wim was able to create a controlled release of cortisol to create a controlled immune suppression response. Researchers then wanted to test to see if Wim was able to replicate the result with others by teaching them his method. Kox and Pickkers tested 12 volunteers trained by Wim over the course of 10 days. Amazingly they discovered they too had the ability to suppress their immune system and even control their core body temperature to withstand freezing temperatures.
60> Astonishing benefits free of charge!
Control your immune system, change your core body temperature, create super human strength and stamina, sleep deeply, burn fat, reduce inflammation, have more energy and switch off stress at will.
People have also reported relief and even complete recovery from mental, autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.
If you practice hard enough you may be able to beat one of Wim Hof’s 26 world records!
2007: Climbed to 6.7 km (21,982 ft) altitude at Mount Everest wearing nothing but shorts and shoes.
2009: Reached the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in his shorts within two days.
2009: Completed a full marathon (42.195 kilometres (26.219 miles), above the arctic circle in Finland. Dressed in nothing but shorts.
2011: Immersed in ice for 1 hour, 52 minutes.
2011: ran a full marathon in the Namib Desert without water.
2011: In research done by Radboud University he trained a group of 12 volunteers to prove the immune system can be modulated.
Why is the Wim Hof method important?
Aside from the apparent health benefits, the Wim Hof Method could save a considerable amount of money as well as lives.
For example the National Health Service in the UK (the healthcare system I worked within as a pharmacist) currently costs the taxpayer over 100 billion a year, with every tax paying citizen in the UK having to cough up 5K a year just to keep it going. This alarming rise in costs can be attributed to the epidemic of metabolic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and obesity, all of which can be reduced and even prevented with this simple free of charge method taught by Wim Hof.
Our current allopathic medical system focuses more on the treatment of symptoms and fails miserably when it comes to prevention. With just 20 minutes of practice a day you potentially have a very simple and scientifically validated method that could dramatically cut medical bills.
From Wim Hof’s website:
According to Maria Hopman of the UMC St Radboud Nijmegen, the things that Wim is capable of are scientifically viewed as impossible. Maria Hopman did a cold physiological experiment on Wim and examined him while he stood a cylinder filled with 700 kilograms ice cubes. An untrained person would likely die from hypothermia; Wim, however, has never had that risk. His body temperature remained constant around 37 degrees Celsius; Hopman expected his temperature to drop over. She thinks it´s possible that Wim can influence his autonomic nervous system, which regulates, among other things, the heart rate, breathing and blood circulation.
Yet, her head is filled with many questions like: How can a man raise his metabolism twice as high without any increase of heart rate? How is it possible that Wim does not shiver while this would be the normal reaction of a body exposed it to extreme cold? Hopman is continuing her investigation on Wim to find the answers to her questions.
Maria Hopman is one of the many scientists who have examined Wim in recent years. Not only in the Netherlands but also abroad, Wim caught the attention of scientists around the world with his exceptional performance.
They examined him in different ways:
Endotoxic research conducted by Prof. Peter Pickkers, UMC St Radboud (amazing results, influence on the autonomic nervous system and immune system!)
Blood tests during meditation and breathing exercises in the UMC St Radboud Nijmegen led by Prof. Netea and Prof. Stick
Cold physiological research TNO led by Prof. Daanen
Cold physiological research in Oulu (Finland) led by Prof. Oksa
Blood tests during meditation and breathing exercises in New York led by Dr. Kevin Tracey
Brown adipose research
The Wim Hof Method has scientifically proven to influence the Autonomic Nervous System and the innate immune response
The Vagus Nerve and Polyvagal Theory
The Vagus Nerve interacts with all of the organs that it touches – image source
The vagus nerve is the longest of the cranial nerves and acts like the captain of your parasympathetic nervous system. New research shows that it could be the link in controlling chronic inflammation and in reducing the damage caused by chronic stress.
Steven Porges introduced the polyvagal theory which is quite a complex theory as to how the vagus nerve influences physiology, but in a nutshell it can help to explain why the Wim Hof Method works so well in controlling inflammation. Porges explains how breathing and many of the facial muscles used in expression of our feelings like feeling happy, scared or angry are connected to the vagus nerve.
He shows why playing a wind instrument like a clarinet is akin to pranayama as you take a deep, fast inhalation followed by extending your breath and changing your facial expressions to play different notes. He explains why certain ancient rituals such as throat singing, chanting and simply singing songs have a direct influence on the vagus nerve in the same way.
The scientists who studied Wim Hof also confirm that he has a direct influence over the vagus nerve. It is like the human body has a special code that is programmable by breathing and facial expressions that stimulates the vagus nerve in specific ways.
The ancients had cracked this code, and so has Wim Hof with his method. It also explains why I was able to recover from a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease using similar methods.
Cocaine is one of the most addictive drugs in the world and also one of the most potentially harmful in terms of its effects on your body and bank balance. Cocaine acts by blocking the reuptake of certain neurotransmitters such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin.
The whole process of doing the Wim Hof method actually signals the release of the same neurotransmitters and even more beneficial substances, but in a more controlled fashion and without any of the negative side effects. This simple breathing method could be used to help addicts fight addiction by replacing their habit with a free and easy technique that also improves your health.
Cold therapy also boosts production of endorphins giving heroin addicts a far healthier and safer methadone alternative!
A Cure For Obesity?
Researchers from Maastricht University hypothesised that perhaps Wim Hof’s abilities stemmed from a high concentration of mitochondria-rich brown adipose tissue, also known as brown fat. This type of fat rapidly heats the body when metabolized. Infants are protected by brown fat when they are born and it is what allows them to survive their first few moments in the outside world.
Usually we lose our brown fat as we age however in Wim Hof’s case, scientists believe that his repeated exposure to cold has led to his very high concentrations of brown fat, enough to produce 5 times more energy than most 20 year olds. This means he burns fat more efficiently and has a leaner healthier body too.
White fat differs from brown fat as it stores calorific energy from food which the body stores as a last resort. Your body burns white fat last and will burn muscle tissue before it uses your white fat for energy and heat. When brown fat is activated, the mitochondria enter the bloodstream and metabolize white fat directly to generate heat. Wim Hof claims that his special concentration technique allows him to produce brown fat consciously providing energy and heat in extreme conditions.
Brown fat may also raise leptin sensitivity. Leptin sensitivity is an issue in overweight people as this hormone regulates your appetite and if you become insensitive to leptin you can easily over eat.
Studies have shown that cold therapy has an anti-obesity effect but scientists are still uncertain about exactly what the main action of it is, but its influence on leptin may hold the answer.
General Well-being, disease prevention and energy balance.
The Wim Hof Method is an easy way to give you a burst of energy first thing in the morning as you are flooding your body with vital oxygen. Continuous connected breathwork of inhalation and exhalation moves the diaphragm and the lymphatic drainage system that helps clear out toxins from your system. Cold exposure trains your circulatory system and also helps lower inflammation. So this can help everyone have more energy and strength to have a more productive and stress free day.
Is this method unique?
After spending time with Wim at his retreat in Holland, I soon discovered how knowledgeable he is on the ancient indian practices of yoga, meditation and pranayama. He spoke 12 languages and could even read and write ancient sanskrit, the language the ancient vedic texts of India were written on. Pranayama is the ancient indian method of breathwork with Bhastrika and Kapalbhati as two of the most similar to the breathwork in Wim Hof Method, although not exactly the same.
I used these ancient techniques when I was still recovering from a chronic autoimmune condition with great success and now they have become a daily habit, as well as the Wim Hof method. When I first learned the Wim Hof method I realized that what Wim Hof has done is to distill the best of ancient and modern breathwork exercises into a short cut to a certain result, that is very easy to follow and very accessible. His precise method also has the most scientific data to validate it so far, and this lands it even more credibility.
A Buddhist monk during a study for Harvard professor Herbet Benson
Cold therapy has also been around for thousands of years. It’s benefits could explain the reason why the Himalayan yogis and Tibetan monks retreated high up in the mountains to meditate in the snow and ice cold lakes. Herbet Benson, a Harvard professor who has studied Tibetan Buddhists who practice a form of meditation called Tummo for the past 20 years, says
“Buddhists feel the reality we live in is not the ultimate one. There’s another reality we can tap into that’s unaffected by our emotions, by our everyday world. Buddhists believe this state of mind can be achieved by doing good for others and by meditation. The heat they generate during the process is just a by-product of g Tum-mo meditation.”
The famous breathwork propagator Leonard Orr claimed he learned his ‘rebirthing’ method by spending time with Himalayan yogis and finally coming in contact with Mahavata Babaji, known as the immortal yogi. Babaji instructed him to tell the world about this sacred breathing technique which can literally cure anything and make you live forever. You can even join Orr’s ‘immortality club’ for a few thousand dollars a year, if that’s your thing.
Wim does not like to make such bold claims about his method and prefers to stick to science to back up what he does. In this respect it is the most unique method out there as it is the only method with conclusive data that shows that it does exactly what Wim claims it can help you do.
In India people would call therapeutic cold showers “Ishnan”. It literally means the point at which the body adapts to the coldness by raising its own internal temperature.
How Ishnan works:
This happens when blood vessels open with cold exposure, then close again during the course of the cold shower. This causes blood to rush back and flush the organs and glands. This helps remove toxins and improve blood circulation to the organs.
With longer cold exposure the process of Ishnan sets of cytokine release. Cytokines are important for intercellular communication, aiding the development of cells, repairing tissues and controlling immunity.
Prolonged cold exposure can also trigger the release of endorphins that are similar to opiates and are your bodies natural pain-killers. Low levels of endorphins are also associated with autoimmune disease and stress related chronic disease. They are also responsible for our feelings of pleasure, that occurs after any kind of intense workout, as well as having sex.
Research at the Department of Radiation Oncology at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine indicates that short cold showers may stimulate the brain’s “blue spot” the brain’s primary source of noradrenaline, a chemical that could help mitigate depression.
Any words of caution?
As with anything related to your body and health, you should always learn from a proper trainer or training program, rather than something written in a book.
The two major areas of concern with the Wim Hof method and any other similar method, is the retention phase and the cold therapy phase. With breath retention as you are holding your breath, there is a length of time where you may do more harm than good if not practiced properly and under the right guidance. This is because you stop absorbing oxygen during this phase which means it causes cerebral anoxia, signalling your body to open up new blood vessels as it thinks you are starving of oxygen.
This leads to cerebral dilation where you have more blood flow to your brain. While this can be very beneficial and is part of the reason for the methods strengthening and healing abilities, there will be a point where it may cause cell damage. The same goes for cold therapy as there will be a point where too long in the cold can lead to problems.
This is why it is necessary to follow the instruction of Wim Hof either at his workshops or online program, or with one of his trainers.
What is the impact of increased oxygen to the brain from the breathing exercises?
What happens is you get cerebral anoxia due to low oxygen tension in the blood. This causes more blood vessels to awaken that may not have been used before as we only use a certain amount of our blood vessels at a time. This increases blood flow to the the brain and other organs in the body.
The lack of oxygen also creates a short sympathetic release followed by going into a calm parasympathetic state after the final inhalation. This is how you create a controlled immune suppression as well as hyper-oxygenating your body. However you should build up your retention time gradually with practice, rather than trying to compete as it can cause harm if you are not used to such low oxygen levels for extended periods of time. Normally you would never be able to hold your breath that long, but the power breathing/deep breathing in the beginning changes your oxygen levels and actually raises the pH of the blood allowing you to retain your breath for much longer.
What Does Wim Eat & Drink?
Wim Hof is vegetarian and only eats one meal a day after 6pm. This meal consists of something very simple like vegetable soup or a pasta dish. He also snacks on nuts and fruits. During the day he likes to drink cups of green tea, coffee and water. In the evening he occasionally enjoys a beer. He certainly does not follow any strict nutrition program or supplement regime.
Science can now explain why low calorie diets are more healthy and intermittent fasting (eating every 16hrs) can lead to longevity. A simple way to do this is to not eat 4 hrs after waking up, but rehydrate with lots of water as soon as you get up, and not eat 4hrs before you go to bed. As most people sleep on average 8 hrs, this will give your 16 hr fast.
The reason we need to eat so much is because we work so hard to create ‘stuff’ that we probably don’t really need to be happy. We also often eat high caloric foods to get that little serotonin boost that temporarily satisfies us when we are feeling low emotionally.
Sugar that forms a large part of the calories in our modern factory food diet has now been regarded as the main culprit for metabolic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, obesity and even many inflammatory conditions like arthritis. According to research from the prestigious National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Metformin a diabetic drug that prevents blood sugar levels from spiking has shown in studies some remarkable longevity boosting qualities, proving yet again that eating less can lead to a longer life.
Since I have been back working on music last few days, which is like a form of meditation for me, and practicing Wim Hof ‘s breathing techniques I’ve hardly felt the urge to eat that much.
A Yogic student who spends his time in pure meditation only, wants very little food. But when he comes on the platform for work he wants abundant nutritious food. A man who does immense labour (physical work) wants more food.’ Swami Sivananda
Any Success Stories With The Wim Hof Method?
Wim Hof is currently doing on-going research to prove his claims scientifically. He says because of the protocols, expense and requirements for studies, this makes science as fast as a slow turtle!
There is already some profound research done on the Wim Hof method with some incredible proven results under scrutinized controlled trials.
In Wim Hof’s own words…
“My job is also your job, that is taking away the ignorance and the darkness, that happiness, strength and health could not be yours guaranteed. Giving you the power to become one with yourself again, and have complete power over your mind, at will over all the systems of your body.’
Feeling is understanding, and your feeling is your guide. You don’t want to perform violence towards the guide, or he won’t show you the way anymore. Be in tune with your guide and he will show you the best places imaginable. That’s the depth of who you are.’
We think of the mind as something abstract. Society and the system filled us up with so many thoughts, facts and things, we are loaded and confused. This method brings back as the most important of it all, one simple thing shown scientifically – we are able, all of us to tap deeply into our system to guarantee happiness, strength and health.
If you don’t feel good, go inward. If you don’t feel happy, go inward. If you don’t feel healthy, go inward. Allow your own feelings and emotions to be your guide. We now have the simple tools that have been scientifically endorsed to connect you back to the intelligence of your own body.”
If you feel sad, you can make a happy hormone.
If you feel weak, you make a hormone for strength.
If you feel sick, you can make hormones that get you well.”
Wim Hof 2015
With the Wim Hof method you learn to awaken your own inner pharmacy, become superhuman, and much more.
The Renegade Pharmacist
If you purchase from this site I will receive a commission for helping you receive this valuable method. I will give you a unique bonus from my special amAya Life system:
Super Charged Bio-Hacks worth ($97) that consists of a series of daily rituals now proven by science, and based on Niraj’s own research and recovery from chronic illness, to help strengthen your body and control your immune system so you can protect yourself against disease and reach optimum states of wellness.
Power Breathing Music by amAya featuring Wim Hof & Joren de Bruin – this special piece of music was composed by Niraj Naik & Dave Dunn from amAya with Wim Hof and one of his trainers, Joren de Bruin who plays the mesmerizingly beautiful hang drum track. Joren is a former dutch premiership professional footballer who was plagued by injury and healed himself using the Wim Hof Method when everything else failed.
So here you have two guys who healed themselves of chronic conditions with the power of breathing and Wim Hof himself producing music which takes you to the highest emotions of peace and acceptance.
It is 20 minute sonic journey from the music inspired by Native Americans through to the hypnotic soothing sounds of electronic trance and ambient. The music was recorded by Niraj Naik & Dave Dunn at Wim Hof’s retreat in Holland.
References and citations
About the Author: The Renegade Pharmacist
I am an ex-community pharmacist turned ‘renegade’ after recovering from a chronic illness without medication, when conventional medicine had given up hope. This site will share what has worked for me and the latest research in holistic healthcare.