The Wim Hof Retreat
February 11, 2022
Musings from a recent transformational experience exploring my physical, spiritual, and emotional edges in the Snowy Mountains of Australia with Wild Things Anatomy…
Author: Hannah Hokarari - Social Ambassador for Snaffle. Click here to follow her on Instagram for more fascinating stories.
Firstly, what is this Wim Hof Method you may ask?!
In brief, the Wim Hof Method (WHM) consists of three pillars – breathing exercises / cold exposure / mindset & commitment. As you will see they combine to become more than the sum of their parts. The man behind this mission is of course Wim Hof himself.
The breathing exercises increase the amount of oxygen available within the body; producing more energy, reducing stress levels, and increasing the bodies immunity.
The cold exposure helps flush the circulatory system, by releasing toxins and improving nutrient flow within the body. Making you healthier and increasing your vitality!
Both the breathing and the cold exposure elicit positive stress responses in the body, all the while with practice you remain calm and focused. This controlled exposure to stress teaches you to become more resilient in other stressful circumstances in life.
The positive mindset helps you remain open to new experiences, trust your body and the process, and keep going even when things get uncomfortable. Just as Shakespeare once said: “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so”.
What was I hoping to get out of the experience?
I first heard of the WHM a few years ago on a podcast (Wild Ideas Worth Living w Shelby Stanger), and was mind blown to hear parallels with my personal experiences in cold water, and most impressively these were backed by science. The benefits of cold exposure, time in nature and cultivating a positive mindset have been a part of my life since childhood, however the healing potential of breathwork has only been a recent discovery. I finally felt it was time to connect the dots between these poignant pillars and delve deeper into the Wim Hof Method under professional guidance.
Having worked as an adventure guide over the last ten years, I have seen and felt the transformational power of time spent in nature - being physically and mentally challenged, and spiritually held. Alas I felt something was missing in my offering and facilitation of these experiences. My innate connection to nature and ongoing journey with yoga, meditation, and psychology have inspired my desire to offer wilderness therapies – exploring both the wildness within and around us. I feel the Wim Hof Method encapsulates this mission well, and sheds light into my missing element… The breath! I wanted to experience the power of this inner work myself and see how to facilitate these deep inner explorations and experiences for others down the track.
Getting high on our own supply (of oxygen!), and ice baths to naturally release endorphins!!!
What did I gain from this experience?
Where to even begin… A strong resounding love and appreciation for human connections and the power of people sharing their story, honouring their truth, and leaning into their vulnerabilities. Finding my voice and speaking my truth had been a deeply engrained fear and was a big hurdle for me during the retreat. I am often engulfed by waves of comparison, de valuing my own experiences and constantly looking to others as examples of what I ‘should’ be feeling/ doing/ saying/ thinking. So, the practise of compassion and acceptance continued to ebb and flow as I held an intention to keep returning to the body (heart), to create distance from the mind (head) and these unhelpful dialogues. Knowing I was there to do this work and being surrounded by the most supportive and accepting humans, helped me face this crippling chorus of conditioned limiting beliefs, and release some of their grip…. I am now trusting that with further practice will come further progress.
This experience affirmed the power of breath, the power of cold exposure and ultimately my desire to become a Wim Hof Instructor! Although theoretically and physiologically I am still baffled; hearing others experiences and feeling the significant shifts within myself were truly remarkable, and certainly ignited a deeper curiosity which I am dedicated to exploring further -both intellectually and experientially. There were poignant moments abound, affirming why I am here, the work there is to do, the depth of the journey to come, and my greater goal of sharing these offerings of internal healing with others.
Making time for the simple things… Fire gazing, walking bare foot, deeply listening, doing nothing...
How would I describe the experience to a friend?
Overflowing with love, gratitude, and contentment having just completed a four-day Wim Hof Retreat in the Snowy Mountains. A truly nurturing experience with the perfect balance of activity, challenges by choice, education, togetherness, feasting, celebration, and stillness.
Nourished inside and out by time in nature, vulnerable conversations, wholesome food and laughter.
We were facilitated by the most inspiring women, instructor Leah and musician Kiit, who have courageously picked themselves up from their respective rock bottoms and paved new paths to consciously create, live and breathe their very best lives! Leah leads with such grace, strength, deep compassion and is a wealth of knowledge all things nature, body and breath related. Kiit, is undoubtably the most phenomenal force of nature you will ever meet, whose soulful sounds and musical creations take you places you have never been before. Together they created the most magical and transformative healing space, where all and everything could surface. So much love, admiration, and awe for these beautiful beings – for their nurturing guidance, courageous confidence, and for holding us so tenderly every step of the way – through all the tears, fear and laughter.
It was amazing and heartfelt to see and feel the depth of connection evolving between everyone in the group in such a short space of time, and truly an honour to be surrounded by such precious souls. I am eternally grateful for this transformative time to continue the inner work. Slowly releasing the limiting beliefs and old conditioned habit patterns that have been holding me back from offering my full potential. Healing is hard, and it hurts, but it is oh so worth it - As Leah would so graciously remind us … When we heal, we heal the small community around us. Thank you so much to all these treasured wholesome humans for co-creating this life changing experience!