(Left to right): Gina Prendergast, Marcel Hof and Steve Poulton.

Some things just have to be experienced to be understood.

A journalist is often invited to attend plays, sports events or civic ceremonies, but never a breath work and ice bath session.

I’m sceptical by nature - the experience was a revelation. With no pre-conceived notion of what the afternoon workshop would entail, it turned out to be enlightening and empowering.

The breath work and ice therapy workshops were facilitated by Marcel Hof, who is gaining worldwide attention with holistic methods aimed at dealing with a range of modern-day ailments like anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.


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Hof uses a series of different breathing techniques designed to improve endurance and resilience, regulate the nervous system, improve sleep and boost the immune system.

It almost sounded too good to be true. But it ain’t. The methods are having tangible results worldwide, and are even being employed by the likes of the army and big business.

Hof, 58, is currently in Levin at the invitation of Levin couple Gina Prendergast and Steve Poulton, who have helped organise a series of workshops that are gaining rave reviews.

“We are honoured to have Marcel here,” they said.


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Hof is the younger brother of internationally renowned Wim Hof, the “Iceman”. He grew up in the Netherlands and had spent years on a journey of discovery, using what he learned to help others unlock their potential.

He said many modern-day ailments and negative emotional patterns relied on drugs that were designed to suppress the problem. The breath work sessions used oxygen to access the body’s natural stores of dopamine, serotonin and adrenaline - which can be used to help to reset a nervous response.

Hof said stress can come in many forms, like an historic event that wasn’t properly dealt with, resulting in suppressed emotions. For some, it could be from an event that happened decades earlier, even in childhood.

“I see an enormous amount of pain and suffering and stress, all the things that people go through and might not handle at a certain period of time,” he said.

“When you put oxygen and energy into your system, things come into the light. It’s a release.”

“It’s simple. It’s beautiful.”

“I’m not a guru that knows everything. You don’t have to over-complicate things. Breath work is a tool you can use at any moment to gain mastery of your own emotions.”

Hof’s workshops and methods were in demand worldwide. He had previously been travelling Australia and planned to base himself in Levin until May.

- Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ on Air.

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