In the world of relaxation and rejuvenation, saunas have long been a popular choice for those seeking to improve their overall health and well-being.
But did you know that incorporating proper breathing techniques, such as Wim Hof's method, meditation, and deep belly breathing exercises, can significantly enhance your sauna experience?
By focusing on deep inhales, practicing box breathing, or square breathing, and even momentarily stopping your breath, you can harness the power of both cold air and hot air to reap the benefits of your infrared sauna session.
In this blog, we'll explore these powerful techniques and how you can include them into your infrared sauna routine, along side your guided sauna meditation, to help you reach new heights of relaxation and wellness.
We talked to Johannes Egberts, a performance coach and certified Wim Hof instructor.
Johannes has worked with numerous elite athletes, executives, and entrepreneurs, helping them unlock their full potential through a combination of breath work and cold therapy.
Join us as we dive into the deep on breathing techniques, ice baths, and other modalities to enhance both the body and mind's performance. First off, let's take a look at the Wim Hof breathing techniques and how you can incorporate them into your sauna routine.
Wim Hof Sauna Breathing Exercises
Breathing techniques are an integral part of any wellness routine, and the Wim Hof Method has gained significant popularity in recent years. This method emphasises the use of breath control and cold exposure to improve physical and mental well-being. Combining this method with infrared sauna therapy can amplify the benefits of both practices.
What Does Wim Hof Breathing Do?
The Wim Hof Method involves a specific breathing technique that involves deep, rhythmic breathing followed by holding the breath. This technique helps increase oxygen levels in the body, which can improve overall physical performance, mental clarity and errant stress response.
When combined with an infrared sauna, the benefits of the Wim Hof Method can be further enhanced. The heat generated by the infrared sauna can help relax the body and improve blood flow, which can allow for deeper and more effective breathing during the Wim Hof breathing exercises.
Sit in a comfortable place in your sauna and imagine your shoulders, legs, knees and neck to be completely relaxed. You can have your feet planted on the ground, have them cross-legged, or simply lie down. Begin taking deep, rhythmic breaths, filling the stomach and chest with air. Inhale deeply through your nose, filling your lungs and exhale fully through your mouth.
Continue breathing deeply for several minutes until you feel comfortable with the rhythm, not letting your breath pause between inhalation or exhalation.
After a few minutes, most people begin to take deeper breaths, inhaling as deeply as possible with their breath, deep into their chest, lungs and stomach and exhaling fully through the mouth. You should feel your body start to relax and your heart rate increases slightly.
After a few rounds of deep breathing, start to hold your breath at the end of one mouth exhale. Hold for as long as you feel comfortable, relaxing your muscles and letting go of any tension, and then releasing your breath.
Repeat this practice of the Wim Hof breathing technique for several minutes, taking breaks as needed.
By practising the Wim Hof breathing technique in an infrared sauna, you can maximise the benefits of both practices. Deep breathing can help increase oxygen levels in the body, while the heat generated by the sauna can improve blood flow and allow for deeper, more effective breath focus.
Breathing Exercises in Your Sauna: Belly Breathing
Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as abdominal or belly breathing helps relax the body and promote a calm mental state.
It involves inhaling deeply and exhaling slowly while focusing on contracting the diaphragm instead of using your chest muscles to pull in the air.
To do this correctly, first, lie down or sit comfortably with one hand placed on your stomach area. Inhale deeply through your nose and focus on feeling the hand rise up as you fill up your abdomen with air.
Exhale slowly through the mouth while feeling your abdomen contract back towards its original position.
Additionally, because it slows your heart rate and increases blood flow to vital organs, it also has physical health benefits such as improved digestion and helps high blood pressure levels.
Is Deep Breath and Ice Baths Good to Incorporate into Your Sauna Practice?
Yes, breath focus and cold exposure can be powerful tools for enhancing your sauna experience and sauna health benefits.
The Wim Hof Method, with its focus on breathing, cold exposure, and mindset, offers a unique and effective approach to achieving these benefits. One of the biggest advantages of these wellness tools is that you can easily use sauna and cold benefits together, and the same goes for breathing exercises.
There's a reason why professional athletes are incorporating it into their training regime. Try incorporating the Wim Hof Method into your infrared sauna routine can be an excellent way to improve both your physical and mental well-being.
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Wim Hof Breathing Method and Cold Plunge
Deep breathing and ice bath have long been used in various cultures as a means to improve overall health and well-being. In recent years, the practice of combining belly breathing with exposure to cold temperatures has gained popularity, with proponents claiming that it can lead to improved physical and mental performance. According to Egberts, the method involves three main pillars:
Wim Hof Method Pillar 1: Breathing
The first pillar of the Wim Hof Method is breathing. The method involves a specific breathing technique that involves taking 30-40 deep breaths followed by exhaling fully and holding your breath for as long as possible. This cycle is repeated several times. According to Egberts, this technique helps to oxygenate the body, reduce inflammation, and increase alkalinity in the blood.
Wim Hof Method Pillar 2: Cold Exposure
The second pillar of the Wim Hof Method is cold exposure. This can involve taking a cold shower or immersing yourself in an ice bath for a certain amount of time. According to Egberts, cold exposure has numerous benefits, including reducing inflammation, increasing circulation, and improving immune function.
Wim Hof Method Pillar 3: Mindset
The third pillar of the Wim Hof Method is the mindset. Egberts explains that the method involves a certain mindset of focus, determination, and acceptance. This mindset can help individuals to push through discomfort and overcome mental barriers.
How to do breath focus and cold exposure enhance performance?
Egberts explains that the method can help to improve physical performance by increasing oxygenation of the body and improving circulation. This can lead to increased endurance, faster recovery times, and improved strength. The method can also have mental benefits, including increased focus, reduced stress levels, and improved mood.
In addition to breathing practice, cold therapy is another technique that can be used to enhance both the body and mind's performance. Interestingly, there are some similarities between cold therapy and sauna therapy.
Benefits of Sauna and Cold Plunge
Both cold therapy and sauna therapy are forms of thermotherapy, which means they use temperature to promote health and wellness. However, they work in different ways.
Cold therapy involves exposing the body to cold temperatures, while sauna therapy involves exposing the body to hot temperatures. Despite these differences, both therapies can produce similar benefits. For example, both can stimulate the release of endorphins, which are natural painkillers that can help reduce stress and improve mood. They can also help boost the immune system, improve circulation, and promote relaxation.
"Both cold therapy and sauna therapy can be incredibly effective for promoting health and wellness, but they work in different ways" Johannes Egberts, says.
He continued by stating, "Cold therapy is great for reducing inflammation, improving circulation, and boosting energy levels. Sauna therapy, on the other hand, is great for detoxifying the body, improving skin health, and promoting relaxation".
What Johannes loves about these two modalities is that "despite these differences, both therapies can be used together to create a powerful health and wellness routine. For example, you could start your day with a cold shower or ice bath to wake up and energise your body, and then end the day with a relaxing sauna session to unwind and promote restful sleep."
Ice Baths Benefits
Another modality that Egberts recommends for enhancing performance is cold exposure, such as ice baths. While the idea of immersing oneself in freezing water may not sound appealing to everyone, Egberts believes that the benefits are well worth it.
"Cold exposure is a powerful way to train your nervous system and improve your resilience," he explains. "By subjecting yourself to extreme cold, you're activating the body's natural stress response and training it to handle stress more effectively."
Egberts recommends starting with shorter exposure times and gradually building up to longer durations as your body adapts to the cold. He also recommends combining cold exposure with breathwork practices, such as Wim Hof breathing, for maximum benefits.
They also provide many similar benefits to saunas – ice bath vs sauna benefits both being modern wellness tools for physical and mental well-being.
Johannes Egberts' Life
Johannes Egberts grew up in the Netherlands, where he spent his childhood playing soccer and other sports. Egberts transitioned into entrepreneurship and began working with clients on their physical and mental well-being. He has since become a sought-after coach and speaker, sharing his knowledge and expertise with individuals around the globe.
Emotional State and Trauma
One of the key insights that Johannes Egberts brings to his work is the importance of addressing emotional states and trauma in order to optimise performance. As he notes, "The most overlooked aspect of high performance is emotional fitness. Without emotional fitness, you can't have physical or mental fitness."
Egberts believes that many individuals are held back by emotional blockages and unresolved trauma, which can manifest in physical and mental symptoms. By addressing these underlying issues, he helps his clients achieve a more integrated and holistic approach to their health and performance.
Deep Breathing Potential Benefits
Breathing is one of the most fundamental aspects of human physiology, yet many of us don't pay much attention to our breath on a daily basis. According to Egberts, conscious breathing techniques can be a powerful tool for optimising both physical and mental performance.
"Breathwork is a foundational element of performance optimisation," he explains. "By learning to control your breath, you can control your physiology, your psychology, and your emotional state."
Egberts recommends incorporating regular breathwork practices into your daily routine, such as deep belly breathing, diaphragmatic breathing, alternate nostril breathing, pursed lip breathing and box breathing. These breathing exercises can help reduce stress, increase energy, and improve focus and concentration.
Other Wellness Modalities and Relaxation Techniques
In addition to breathing exercises and cold water immersion, Egberts recommends exploring other modalities for optimising performance, such as meditation, visualisation, and biofeedback. These exercises can help improve focus, reduce anxiety, balance the central nervous system, and enhance overall well-being.
As Egberts notes, "There's no one-size-fits-all approach to performance optimisation. It's about finding what works best for you and incorporating those practices into your daily routine."
In conclusion, relaxation techniques, ice baths, breathe and other modalities can be powerful tools for enhancing both the body and mind's performance.
Infrared Sauna Health Benefits
Want to learn more about the health benefits of infrared saunas?