Month: January 2021

Take a fresh breath; and now jump into an ice bath

Wim Hof photo

Wim Hof

It was through my daughter, Tanya, that I first learned about Wim Hof. She suggested I listen to his podcast. I did and became intrigued.

The Iceman

Known as the “Iceman,” Wim Hof has done many way-out things in the cold: he climbed Kilimanjaro twice in a pair of shorts, ran a marathon north of the Arctic Circle in shorts, swam under a frozen lake in shorts (ok, probably a bathing suit), and he takes frequent ice baths. You get the gist of why he’s called the Iceman.

Wim Hof photo

Although I have spent more time living in Canada than my native South Africa, I still dislike the cold. I thought Wim Hof’s teachings might be a way for me to embrace the cold — and maybe even enjoy it.

So, I decided to try it.

I downloaded his App (which is free). It has routines for breathing, taking cold showers or baths, engaging in physical exercise, and meditating. I started with the breathing.

The guided breathing “bubble” was free for a limited time. I did it every morning, just after I woke up. After about three sessions, I was hooked! My oxygen level has risen because I feel really energized. It seems I walk with a much straighter back and a spring in my step. So, I continued.

Breathing + Meditation

Next, I added my meditation session right after I completed my breathing. It surprised me to find that my meditation (which I have been doing for years) had grown much quieter. It almost seemed as though there were no thoughts in my mind. I was thrilled. So, I continued even further.

He’s written books

My next step was to read his book – The Wim Hof Method: Activate Your Full Human Potential. I will review it at a later date.

From his book I learned that a number of universities have become very interested in Wim Hof. He has been the subject of extensive studies in the U.S. and the Netherlands.

The Benefits of the Wim Hof Method

Studies have shown that the benefits include:

  • Stress reduction, faster recovery from physical exercise, better sleep, improved sports performance, more focus and mental clarity, enhanced creativity.
  • Reduced symptoms of diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, MS, Parkinson’s disease, asthma, severe autoimmune disease.
  • Potential for more alkaline blood, which certainly helps many diseases including cancers.

For me, my pulse rate and blood pressure have come down since I started to practice the breathing.

How it works

The training allows you to voluntarily influence your autonomic nervous system which was thought to be impossible to do. This system unconsciously supports your heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate, fight-or-flight response, and more.

In one experiment, Hoff trained twelve people with his method. Staff at Radboud University in The Netherlands then injected him and his group with a dose of dead “bacteria’s endotoxin” and also injected a control group. After the injection, the human body normally undergoes an intense sickness for three hours. None of the Wim Hof group got sick, while all of the control group did.

Back to me

My next step was to start the cold showers. I could only stay in the cold shower for about 15-seconds, at first. Since then, I have slowly built it up and can do almost 2-minutes at a time.

On to physical exercise! I have to admit that physical exercise is not my strong point. I am happier doing yoga or qigong, but I have been able to hold a plank for more than a minute and a half and have even done some push-ups.

What’s next?

I have told some of my clients about Wim Hof’s method. Some of them have begun with the breathing and find that they are gaining real benefits. They have experienced less anxiety and even amazing improvements in long term issues.

I encourage you to download the app or check out Vim Hof’s website. You can take his free mini course to get you started. There are videos which you can also watch for free. I feel better and think you can too.

My goal of being able to like the cold has not been fulfilled – yet. However, I find I do not complain as much about the winter weather and have even enjoyed some outdoor walks!

Take care and good health to you in the New Year. May 2021 be a great year for all!

~~ Ellen

P.S. I posted this article originally in my monthly newsletter in January. If you would like to receive my newsletter, sign up today.



Happy New Year scroll

Happy New Year!

These three words — Happy New Year — are full of new possibilities as we venture into the unknown world of 2021. My hope is that we all embrace it with an open heart.

The world is in a state of amazing upheaval. None of us has ever experienced anything like this before on such a grand scale. Times like this can be the impetus for change – let’s make this happen!

2021 could be the year that heralds a new way of living on Earth.

It’s time we learn to live in a way that regenerates the Earth. We must respect all of Earth’s inhabitants – people, animals, trees, pollinators, insects, flowers, plants, etc. Let’s build a world in which peace, harmony, happiness, and joy for all surrounds us.

We can make this happen through our intentions, by practicing kindness and gratitude.  Today we have the opportunity to live in a way that celebrates nature.  The same nature that so freely gives us life, love and nurtures our souls.

A very happy, peaceful, and healthful 2021 to all.

Ellen Lewinberg photo

~~ Ellen


P. S. For more inspiration to make 2021 a great year for you and others, check out my blog posts Gratitude in a world of uncertainty and Survival of the kindest.

The Sweetness of a Simple Life: a book review

Sweetness Book cover

The Sweetness of a Simple Life

Tips for a healthier, happier and kinder living from a visionary natural scientist

By Diana Beresford-Kroeger, PhD | Penguin Random House (April 7, 2015)

This year, my plan is to share various books, articles, and philosophers who can help us heal ourselves and, in turn, heal our earth and climate.

This is the second book of Diana Beresford-Kroeger that I have read. The first was To Speak for the Trees which I read while vacationing in Ireland.

My admiration for this visionary has grown deeper with this reading.

The Book

The Sweetness of a Simple Life is a book full of essays. When I finished reading them, I wished I had had been taught how to live this way when I was young. I encourage you to share it with the young people in your life.

Sweetness Book cover

As she seems to do with everything she touches, Diane Beresford-Kroeger mixes science with storytelling. Through her common-sense approach, her gift to us is a greater understanding of the interconnectedness of every living thing on this planet we call Earth.

Diane Beresford-Kroeger was orphaned at an early age and a bachelor uncle who loved knowledge and books became her entire family. She spent her summers with distant relatives in Ireland who were among the last people to follow the Druidic traditions. These teachings instilled in her a love and respect for the nature of all things, the freedom to use a creative approach to living, and a search for wisdom to share with others. It was these teachings of the ancient druids that introduced her to the idea that science and art overlap.


In this wonderful collection of essays, you will find an easy-to-understand guide for living simply and well. Beresford-Kroeger’s appreciation for nature infused my soul. She describes how to grow a garden, how to store food for the winter, which foods to eat for good health, and how we can take care of our loved ones and our pets.

Diana Beresford-Kroeger mixes modern medicine and ancient traditions with practical wisdom to give us a guide on how to live a life connected with nature and all that it offers us.

We must be the change that helps nature thrive so we can all breathe fresh air under blue skies for the rest of human existence.

Take care,

~~ Ellen


P.S. I found this wonderful video of Diana Beresford-Kroeger describing her childhood. It peals back the layers and you get a peak at her heart. You can find Diana Beresford Kroeger – Care of Mind Body and Soul on Unity of Vancouver’s YouTube channel. There are many more videos of her online from gardening tips to hour-long presentations.

You might also be interested in documentary projects and their websites that Beresford-Kroeger supported.

The Truth About Trees

A three-part PBS documentary that shares the natural history of trees and the challenges they will face as climate change progresses. Funded by the MacArthur Foundation.

Call of the Forest

This one-hour video follows Diana Beresford-Kroeger as she tells amazing stories of ancient forests while also explaining the science of trees and the critical roles they play in protecting and feeding our planet.