A couple of years ago I saw a video of Wim Hof, The Iceman, running a half marathon in Lapland, Finland at -26 degrees Celcius barefoot, just wearing shorts and a small cap. I saw also many other videos of his feats with extreme cold water. I was very impressed by his ability to use his mind to withstand such cold temperatures. Several months ago I decided to contact him, perhaps I would be able to learn something from him. I found his website and I wrote him an e-mail asking if he had any training program. Soon after he replied to me and told me that the 1st of May 2010 he will give a one week workshop in a farm in Poland. I immediately decided to join this workshop, although I didn't know anything about it, but in the e-mail he sounded like a really nice guy, so why not give it a try, right?
And guess what.... right now, I'm sitting in the living room of his country house listening to a cool song that he is composing at this very moment together with Justin, a guy that came for the workshop all the way from the US. "I don't fear the cold..... I don't fear the cold.... I just found a way to cope...." Wow, is really cool to be here.
The whole thing has been like a little adventure. I didn't received much information about the workshop, Wim just told me the location, the dates and that's it. There was no program, no daily schedule, no nothing, I was not even sure if it would be for real or not, I didn't even know what kind of clothes to bring but I was sure I would need a swimming suit at least. Anyway, the last week of April I took a flight to Poland and took the opportunity to visit some friends in Warsaw and Krakow. Then, the 1st of May I took a train from Krakow to Wroclaw, 4hours 30 minutes and then a 2 hour bus from Wroclaw to Lwowek Slaski. When I arrived there I realized that I didn't know at what time I will meet Wim and neither he knew at what time I would arrive, shit!!. And this place seemed to be in the middle of nowhere and the train station look like it hasn't been use in the last 100 years.
So I started to get a bit worried. I tried to call him but no response, I walked around and went to a pizzeria and ordered a pizza just to kill some time. I asked to the lady in the pizzeria if there was any internet place nearby, and as far as I understood there was nothing around in the whole town... well at least that was my interpretation cause she spoke only Polish. 2 hours later I returned to the train station but on my way, I passed by a group of people that seemed to be having fun, playing music and having a bit of alcohol. I kept walking but all of a sudden the girls from that group started to call me, I guess they were saying something like "please join us", but the whole thing seem a bit weird and scary so I kept walking. Then one of the girls approached me, put her hand around my neck and try to bring me to the group. I realized she was completely drunk so I just say "Going to station" and I continued my way. You know, is just something a bit scary when you are in the middle of nowhere in a place that you don't know and with a foreign language that you don't understand at all. But soon after I crossed that little path I reached the station and all of a sudden a guy with bear and sunglasses screamed "Marco!!! We found you!!!". This was Conrad, Wim's logistics man, an extremely funny guy from Poland. All of a sudden I was surrounded by 4 guys welcoming to the group: The Iceman; Conrad; Henin, a photographer from Holland friend of Wim and Justin, the guy from the US that also came for the workshop. It was weird but cool, I felt immediately at ease, they are really nice guys.
And since that moment we've been having a really cool time. I've been learning from the Iceman as much as I can, we have been talking a lot about the benefits of the cold immersions, yoga, meditation, kundalini energy, expanding our consciousness, pranayamas and a lot more. I have been adapting little by little to the cold. The second day we went 3 times to a nearby river to train a bit, the water was between 8 and 9 degrees. I thought that it wouldn't be too cold, anyway the weather was nice and I was wearing a t-shirt most part of the day, and since Wim and Justin jumped into the water without hesitation I decided to do the same, but as soon as I jumped into the water I felt so much pain that the only thing that I wanted to do was to get the hell out of there. But then the Iceman said "breath Marco, breath; just focus on your breathing". This reminded me a scene from one of my favorite movies "The Matrix" :-) I try to stay for as long as I could but I resisted only for about 30 seconds. When I got out of the water my whole body was shaking uncontrollably.
We have also done some rappelling in a rock nearby, shopping for food, playing the guitar, playing Frisbee, cold water immersions, talking about deep stuff and a lot more. No program, no schedule, everything is just so spontaneous. I just love it. I wouldn't call it a workshop, is actually much more than that.
But who is the Iceman?
Wim Hof, known as the Iceman, is a great guy from Holland. He is a super funny person, very active and passionate about life. It's very inspiring to be around him. He has learned so many things just by himself, an autodidact. His mother tongue is Dutch, but he also speaks English, Spanish, French, Italian, Polish, Japanese and even a bit of Hindi and Sanskrit, wow!! I love to hear him reciting some of the verses of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. He knows how to play the guitar, a bit of piano and he sings really well. He also likes drawing and painting and he is quite good at it. He is a rock climber and has even been a guide in the Pyrenees . And what I like the most is that he has learned yoga and meditation by himself, with no guru and without following any specific course, just by doing it and the proof that he has been very successful at it is the development of his mind control to stand extreme cold temperatures. But it's not about standing the cold, it's about achieving real self control, although Wim has proved that the cold immersions are extremely beneficial for the overall health of the body and mind. There are many studies that are being performed at this moment.
After seeing all this and after talking with him about so many things I really feel like if I were talking with a real yogi but a very practical one. Like he says "there is no hocus pocus, it's all natural and simple".
If you want to contact him you can find him here