Methode « Wim Hof » (Wim Hof Method)

QUESTION/REMARQUE

«Je vais aussi chez l’acupuncteur tous les mois. Et hier il m’a dit d’arrêter de me plonger dans l’eau froide parce que j’avais du vent et du froid dans mes méridiens 😕😕 (j’avais mal au dos depuis deux semaines et la peau extrêmement froide, ce qui chez moi est très inhabituel)»

REPONSE (ALEX)

La méthode WIM HOF exige que le corps soit correctement chauffé et réchauffé avant et après l’exposition à l’eau. L’utilisation de la technique de respiration pendant 15 minutes (effectuée 10 à 30 minutes avant l’exposition au froid) favorise la microcirculation et d’autres aspects réglementaires de la physiologie.

La méthode, correctement réalisée, stimulera tous les doshas, en particulier les cinq Vayus (aspects de Vata) qui stimulent à leur tour les principes de régulation de Pitta et de Kapha. Fait correctement, en respectant la dose (intensité) de la pratique, le résultat est un effet équilibrant et tonifiant global sur le corps (à condition que la nutrition et le mode de vie en général soient également pris en compte).

La technique de respiration fonctionne principalement pour ouvrir et stimuler le Vayus. Si pratiqué avec zèle, cela dérangera Vata Dosha. Le principe clé utilisé est le souffle et le mouvement (Vata).

Les techniques de chauffage (qui sont assistées par la technique de respiration) vont activer Pitta Dosha et stimuler Agni. Des mouvements physiques lents mais légèrement pénibles, associés à une respiration lente et profonde, entraînent une augmentation de la chaleur, principalement par activation musculaire. Les principes de mouvement et thermogéniques sont utilisés (Vata et Pitta).

L’exposition froide de la peau a pour effet de stimuler Vyana Vayu dans une direction endocentrique (de l’extérieur vers l’intérieur). Agni / Pitta est entraîné de la surface du corps au centre du corps. C’est le premier effet d’aller dans l’eau. Si nous restons immobiles dans l’eau, ne bougeons pas et ne faisons que respirer, ce mouvement intérieur profond est maintenu le plus longtemps possible. Une fois que la température de la peau tombe à environ 10 degrés Celsius, le sang qui a plongé au cœur du corps commencera à se rétracter à la surface pour prévenir les dommages dus au froid. Les frissons peuvent aussi commencer.

L’idée n’est pas d’aller au point de frissonner. Pratiqué graduellement et quotidiennement, le corps produira plus de graisse brune (et peut-être d’autres facultés non encore découvertes) pour améliorer la thermogenèse non musculaire (c’est-à-dire des moyens de créer une chaleur interne ne provoquant pas de contractions musculaires ni de frissons).

Si, lorsque nous sommes dans l’eau froide, nous nageons ou bougeons, le sang est forcé de circuler jusqu’aux muscles (en quittant le noyau du corps). Si suffisamment de chaleur est générée par cette activité, le feu accru (Agni) commencera à digérer les niveaux excessifs de Kapha dans les muscles et les tissus adipeux.

Tout cela est assez technique, mais logique.

Mon sentiment à propos de cette méthode est que Pitta Prakriti peut la pratiquer avec moins d’attention. Toutefois, Vata et Kapha Prakriti doivent faire preuve de plus de prudence et s’assurer de bien se préparer et de récupérer (après une exposition au froid).

Dans mon cas, j’avais un poids insuffisant et j’étais sensible au froid en général. Peu de temps après le début de la méthode, j’ai remarqué une augmentation de la faim (augmentation de Jatharagi) et j’ai donc commencé à manger de plus grandes quantités de nourriture et à la rendre plus nourrissante. J’ai aussi commencé à faire de l’exercice physique (lente, mise en charge, c’est-à-dire développer ses muscles) Mon endurance au froid a augmenté, ma Pitta a augmenté (ainsi que l’Agni) sans s’aggraver. Kapha est resté le même. Clairement, si je devais négliger l’aspect chauffant de la méthode (c’est-à-dire la respiration et les exercices), je développerais rapidement un Vata Vikriti (excès de Vata). Et si je devais faire le chauffage, mais pas manger plus (et des aliments plus lourds), je finirais par augmenter Agni, ce qui appauvrirait rapidement Dhatus, causant ainsi une aggravation à la fois de Vata et de Pitta.

Dans le cas de Kapha Prakriti ou Vikriti (Kapha en excès), je serais également condamné à une augmentation de Kapha (et peut-être de Vata) si je devais négliger l’aspect chauffage.

En résumé, l’exposition au froid n’est adaptée qu’aux personnes ayant un taux adéquat de Pitta en l’absence de Kapha ou de Vata élevé.

Wim Hof lui-même, bien que n’étant pas un expert en ayurvédique, a nommé son site Web (et en un sens, sa méthode) “Inner Fire”. Il prétend lui-même ne manger qu’un repas par jour. Clairement, il s’agit d’un Pitta-Kapha Prakriti.

ANGLAIS

The WIM HOF method requires that the body is properly heated and re-heated before and after water exposure. The use of the breathing technique for 15 mins (done 10-30 mins before cold exposure) promotes micro-circulation and other regulatory aspects of physiology.

The method, done correctly, will stimulate all the Doshas, especially the five Vayus (aspects of Vata) which in turn stimulate the Pitta and Kapha regulatory principles. Done correctly, respecting the dose (intensity) of practice, the result is an overall balancing and tonifying effect on the body (providing that nutrition and general lifestyle are also being attended to).

The breathing technique works mostly to open and stimulate the Vayus. If practiced over zealously, this will disturb Vata Dosha. The key principle being used is the breath and movement (Vata).

The heating teachniques (which are supported by the breathing technique) will activate Pitta Dosha and stimulate Agni. Slow but mildly strenuous physical movements, combined with slow deep breathing elicit an increase of heat, mostly via muscle activation. The movement and thermogenic principles are being used (Vata and Pitta).

The cold exposure to the skin has the effect of stimulating Vyana Vayu in an endocentric direction (outwards to inwards). Agni/Pitta is driven from the surface of the body to the centre of the body. This is the first effect of going in the water. If we stay still in the water, not moving, only breathing, this deep inward movement is maintained for as long as possible. Once the skin temperature falls to about 10 degrees celcius, the blood that has dived to the core of the body will begin to circluate back to the surface to prevent damage form cold. Shivering may also begin.

The idea is not to go to the point of shivering. If practiced gradually and daily, the body will produce more brown fat (and perhaps other as yet undiscovered faculties) to improve non-muscular thermogenesis (i.e. ways to to create inner heat that do not involves muscle contractions nor shivering).

If, whilst in the cold water, we swim or move around, the blood is forced to circulate to the muscles (leaving the core of the body). If enough heat is generated from this activity, the increased fire (Agni) will begin to digest excess levels of Kapha in the muscles and fat tissues.

This is all quite technical, but, logical.

My feeling about this method is that it can be practiced with less attention by Pitta Prakriti. However, Vata and Kapha Prakriti have to be more careful, and have to be sure to prepare and recouperate (from the cold exposure) correctly.

In my own case, I was underweight and sensitive to the cold in general. Quickly after starting the method, I notice an increase in hunger (Jatharagi increasing) and so I began to eat larger amounts of food, and made that food more nourishing. I also began to do physical exercise (slow, weight bearing, i.e. to build muscle). My endurance for the cold has increased, my Pitta has increased (as well as Agni) without becoming aggravated. Kapha has stayed the same. Clearly, if I was to neglect the heating aspect of the method (i.e. the breathing and exercises), I would quickly develop a Vata Vikriti (excess Vata). And if I was to do the heating aspect, but not eat more (and more heavy foods), I would end up increasing Agni which would quickly deplete Dhatus thus in turn causing an aggravation of both Vata and Pitta.

In the case of Kapha Prakriti or Vikriti (excess Kapha), I would be similarly fated to an increase of Kapha (and perhaps Vata) if I was to neglect the heating aspect.

In summary, cold exposure alone, is only adapted to people with adequate levels of Pitta in the absence of high Kapha or Vata.

Wim Hof himself, though not an Ayurvedic expert, has named his website (and in a sense, his method) “Inner Fire”. He himself claims to only eat one meal per day. Clearly, he is a Pitta-Kapha Prakriti.

Ayurveda versus Wim Hof Method (extracts from Charaka Samhita)

Usefulness of Therapies Generally Considered As Harmful

If the morbidities have afflicted the deep-seated organs like those in the koshta (thoracic and abdominal visceras) and joints, at times, for their cure, therapeutic measures generally considered as contradictory (viruddha) may be useful.

If pitta is deep-seated and located in the internal pathway (thoracic and abdominal visceras), then by the application of hot fomentation, seka (affusion) and upadeha (hot poultices), it comes out to the exterior of the body resulting in the alleviation of pitta or heat. [Thus, heat-producing therapies may cure pitta which is hot in nature.]

By the application of external therapies like seka (affusion), etc., which are cooling in nature, the external heat is pressed to go inside, and cure the deep-seated kapha in the internal path way (thoracic and abdominal visceras). Thus, a cooling therapy may cure kapha which is cold in nature.

Agni and the winter (i.e. the cold)

During the cold winter, the digestive power of human beings possessing good health (strength) is enhanced due to the restraint caused upon it by the cold wind, so much so that it is capable of digesting any food stuff irrespective of its heaviness and the quantity. 

When it does not get the proper fuel, the digestive fire affects the nutritive fluids resulting in the vitiation of Vata having cold quality. 

Therefore, during the winter one should take the unctuous, sour and saltish juices of the meat of the aquatic and marshy animals which are fatty. One should also eat the meat of burrow-dwelling animals and bhytii ( a preparation of meat by mincing it ) prepared of animals of prasaha type ( who eat by snatching ).

As stated in the previous verse, the winter is the best season for the attainment of good health. The effect of the season, however, is more felt only when the winter is excessively cold. The process is quite simple to explain. As the application of cold mud by a potter over the furnace restrains the inner heat and thereby helps burning of the earthen pots, so also the cold wind, because of its contact with the skin, restrains the outward movement of the inner heat and enhances the power of digestion and metabolism. So, is it not that the cold wind itself is transformed into fire, it rather enhances the inner heat only by obstructing its outward movement.

The effect of the winter on the power of digestion and metabolism is proportionate with the health of the individual. That is to say, the better the health, the stronger is the power of digestion and metabolism. A similar reference is available in the Hastivaidyaka ( science of Medicine for Elephants). While explaining the cause of good health of young elephants it has been stated, ” Elimination of diseases upon the strength (power of resistance-immunity) of the tissue elements which in turn depends upon the power of digestion; the power of digestion is the bodily strength; bodily strength is the outcome of the cheerfulness; cheerfulness can come only when there is unrestricted fulfilment of desires,”

For winter, heavy food is prescribed both quantitatively and qualitatively. Unless heavy food is taken, the digestive process cannot function properly. Because, for the want of adequate fuel within the body, the digestive heat would start consuming tissue elements of the body (autolysis) as a result of which the vata gets vitiated. This also happens because the vata is cold by nature and its contact with external cold wind during winter season renders it liable to be vitiated. This can be neutralised only by the intake of heavy food which provides sufficient heat and also adequate nutrition to the tissues.

Three aetiological factors and types of sensory stress :

These are the three types of causes ( of diseases )-excessive utilisation, non-utilisation and wrong utilisation of objects ( of senses ), acts and time.

Excessive use of exceedingly cold and hot bath, massage and unction etc., amounts to over utilisation of the tactile sense faculty; not to use it at all is its non-utilisation; the use of bath, massage and unction and other hot and cold substances without observing the prescribed order, touch of uneven place, dirty objects, bacteria and injurious touch constitute its wrong utilisation.

Comment to above paragraph: Even the use of cold or hot massage in a lesser quantity is harmful, but if it is not used at all it is all the more harmful. Then again, there is a prescribed order for massage, bath and unction. One should not apply unction after taking bath. Similarly one should not enter into a pond containing cold water, while afflicted with heat.

Aggravation and alleviation of Vata

We shall now explain how the aggravating and alleviating factors respectively aggravate and alleviate the vata, which is incorporeal and unstable-thereby inaccessible. the aggravating factors of vata ate those which bring about roughness, lightness, coldness, instability, coarseness, non-sliminess and hollowness. The vata gets shelter in, this environment of body and attains growth, and so it gets aggravated. The alleviating factors of the .vata, on the other hand, are those which bring about unctuousness, heaviness, heat, smoothness, softness, sliminess and Compactness. The vata does not get lodged in this type of body and as such gets alleviated.

Aetio-pathology and clinical features of emaciation

Now the aetiology, signs, symptoms and defects of excessive emaciation are being described. Excessive emaciation is caused by the intake of ununctuous diets and drinks, fasting, intake of food in inadequate quantity, over administration of elimination therapies, grief, suppression of the natural urges, including the urge for sleep, unction with ununctuous material, repeated baths, heredity, old age, continued illness and anger.

An excessively emaciated person does not stand physical exercise, intake of food in large quantity, hunger, thirst, diseases and drugs. They also cannot stand excessive cold, heat and sexual acts. Such emaciated persons are often subjected to splenic diseases, cough, wasting, dyspnoea, gulma ( abdominal tumour), piles, obstinate abdominal diseases and diseases of the small intestine. Their buttocks, abdomen and neck are emaciated, there is vascular net work in the skin; the joints are prominently seen and the man appears to have bone and skin only.

Importance of good build

Persons having proportionate musculature and compactness of the body no doubt possess very strong sensory and motor organs and as such they are not overcome by the onslaught of diseases. They can stand hunger, thirst, the heat of the sun, cold and physical exercises. They can digest and assimilate properly.

An aside about morbid thirst and use of cold water

Prohibition of Cold Water: However, bath with exceedingly cold water obstructs the dissipation of heat. The heat thus, enters the kostha (gastrointestinal tract) and causes thirst. Therefore, a person fatigued by exposure to heat should not instantaneously resort to cold water (bath).

Cold water bath prevents the dissipation of heat through the hair follicles. Thus, the heat moves in the opposite direction towards the gastrointestinal tract and causes thirst. By implication, this type of thirst is also caused by the aggravated pitta. This happens if cold water is used instantaneously. But if after waiting for some time, cold water is taken, then such a type of thirst is not manifested.

[ALEX: hence, confirmation that bathing in cold water concentrates and increases Agni in the core of the body].

An aside about the use of cold water swimming in the treatment of Kapha disease known as urustamha (AORTOILIAC OCCLUSION WITH METABOLIC SYNDROME)

To alleviate kapha, the able bodied patients should be engaged in physical exercise, and they should be made to walk over the ground covered with gravels and sand in the morning. The patient should be made to swim frequently against the current of a river with cold water but harmless (free from dangerous aquatic animals). He may also be advised swimming frequently in a pond having clean, cold and stable water.

Urustambha is caused by the aggravation of vata and kapha. Contact with water as it happens during swimming should normally aggravate kapha as well as the disease urustambha. But while swimming, the physical exercise produces heat. and this heat cannot get dissipated because of the cold water surrounding the body. The heat thus. generated remains (enters) inside the body to dissociate kapha from the adhered tissues resulting in its alleviation. Thus, swimming in cold water produces opposite effect, i.e. instead of aggravation, it causes alleviation of kapha. In spite of its contradictory nature, it actually cures the disease, and thus, serves as an appropriate therapy. Keeping this phenomenon in view. it will be described in Cikitsa 30 : 322 that at times, therapies having opposite effects become conducive to the treatment of diseases.

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