‘You’ve had what we call a cosmic orgasm’: the rise of conscious breathing
You do it more than 23,000 times a day, but are you breathing properly? From a rebirthing session to holotropic breathwork, Richard Godwin inhales the latest wellness craze
Photograph: Getty Images
Are you sitting comfortably? Airways clear, back straight, no respiratory conditions? OK. Take a series of short, deep breaths. Activate your diaphragm, pull the air right down into your belly, let the chest fall. Repeat 30-40 times. Feeling a little floaty? Fingers tingling? Don’t worry. It’s just oxygen saturating your cells.
Now take a big breath, then expel all the air from your lungs and hold it. Relax, you’ll be fine. (As long as you’re not doing this in a swimming pool.) That slight feeling of panic? It’s nothing to worry about. You might be surprised how long you can push it before you have to take a huge gasp.
After three attempts, I managed three minutes 23 seconds of not breathing. The person who formulated this exercise, Dutch endurance specialist and multiple world record holder Wim Hof, 59, has trained himself to go up to six or seven minutes. He claims that by performing this exercise daily (along with a regimen of cold showers and meditation), we can help treat a whole suite of conditions and diseases, from depression to arthritis. “It’s so simple,” he tells me. “That’s why people overlook it. They stay in their brains thinking, ‘This cannot be so simple.’ But it is!”