Unless you have been living under a stone, we’re willing to bet you’ve heard of Wim Hof, the Dutch extreme sportsman whose Wim Hof Method (WHM), combines cold water immersion, breath technique and mindset work. It has rapidly become the most talked-about practice for healthy living. Countless Sunday supplements have dedicated pages to his work and his website boasts 2,800,000 ‘Hoffers’ or subscribers. The only fly in the ointment? Frankly, it can all come across as pretty macho.
Om & Bass founder, Rach Cox spent time with Laura and Isabelle Hof, Wim’s fierce daughters, who are on a mission to make their father’s learning more appealing to women…
I started practicing the WHM during the pandemic with my younger sister who has rheumatoid arthritis, a super-painful and debilitating affliction. Every morning we wake up early, do the breathing then get into cold water; setting our minds to the task before each practice. The unbelievable feeling, energy, joy, and benefits of the practice are undeniable.
I confess that I personally don’t like cold showers, but I love getting into natural bodies of water. Thankfully, when we speak, the Hof sisters didn’t judge me and agree that it is far more pleasant to get into a river, lake, or ocean but if you can’t get to a natural body of water, you can use a cold shower at home by gradually increasing the length of time in which the water runs cold. There is no need to shock the system: gently does it. And of course, cold showers are so much more accessible because most people have access to a shower at home and, with no extra costs involved, and that is just one of the huge pluses of this practice: it’s free.
However, “It always seems to attract a lot of men and a lot of ‘ego’” says Laura, “We thought, well, we are women, and we are doing it and it has helped so many women around the world. Women are built to have babies and have a much higher pain threshold than men, so we thought, why aren’t more women doing it?” continued Isabelle.
Laura and Isabelle describe themselves as (Ice) Women on a Mission and hope to inspire more women to adopt these seemingly extraordinary practices which have been proven to cultivate life-altering benefits. It has been shown to reduce inflammation and infection in the body, balance hormones and improve circulation as well as having a positive impact on treating depression and anxiety, and even improve our looks: shinier hair, sparkling eyes and smoother skin.
The Lady Hof’s explain that The Ice Women community is made up of women of all ages, from young girls right up to a woman in her late nineties. “I remember going into cold water for a swim when I was as young as 9. I was just copying my father”, says Laura, who is a yoga teacher as well as a WHM instructor. “He never forced us, we just copied him because he is our father and that’s what kids do”. “It’s like a reset button, similar to having a coffee in the morning” explained Isabelle, psychologist and Director at WHM.
Natural swimming, being outside, allowing the body and mind to sync with nature and creating true balance is the essence of this practice. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that being indoors, shallow breathing, not moving our bodies and being on devices really is not good for us. Our microbiome and electrical energy systems need nature.
A passion for yoga, dance, self-discovery and a love of meditation inspired Rach Cox to create Om & Bass, a contemporary take on yoga which takes participants on a ‘chakra’ journey by combining traditional yoga with contemporary music, building up to a joyous ‘Drum & Bass’ climax. The two-hour classes are lit by candlelight and have been taught around the world.
Om & Bass run retreats and events throughout the year (and have been offering online options during the pandemic). In September, the Om & Bass Weekender will be held at East Hanney in Oxfordshire, a retreat ‘camp-out’ festival celebrating nature, wellness, movement, connection, breath, yoga, meditation and healing, all in a beautiful woodland setting with live music, campfires, craft, conversation and, of course, dancing.
Find Laura & Isabelle online on Instagram @laura_hof_alchemy and @isabellehof
For more information on the Ice Women community, visit www.laurahofalchemy.com
And for more on the Wim Hof Method, visit www.wimhofmethod.com
For more information or to book tickets visit omandbass.co.uk.