“The cold is an absolute doorway to the soul.” – Wim Hof, The Ice Man
I’ve run four Tough Mudders and five other obstacle course races. Why do people do this? Everyone has their reasons, but for me, when I’m in the freezing ice-water, crawling through claustrophobic pipes half filled with water, jumping off platforms into more cold water, crawling through mud, getting electrocuted, and pushing my brain and body through 12 miles of that shit, it’s a vacation! A vacation from the mundane and the rigmarole of distraction throughout our daily lives. The chatter, the multi-tasking, the dishes, dinner, laundry, phone, news, work, the lawn, traffic, and wait … what’s for lunch? All that goes away and you’re there, completely engaged with the universe.
I’ve trained and worked with MMA fighters and many will say this about being in the octagon: When you’re in there, everything else goes away. It’s not office politics or life drama. For that short period of time, you’re there; completely. All that outside noise is gone. It’s liberating and refreshing.
As for training with Wim Hof, it’s not something I’ve done. Not yet. Maybe not at all; I haven’t made up my mind. I’ve read his books and follow the method on his website. I love the breathing and concentration part. I hate the freezing cold water part. So, we’ll see. But as he says, when you’re in that cold water, all you can focus on is survival. Your mind, body, and soul are all engaged in the same place and it’s an amazing thing to experience.
So, if we don’t want to get our face kicked in, get hypothermia in a lake near the north pole, or use our body as the bottom of a twenty-foot tall human ladder, while eating someone’s muddy Adidas, what can we do to get this same feeling?
Binge watch Game of Thrones? Stranger Things? Billions? No, that’s not it. But yes, watch these shows. It’s not yoga, but not everything needs to be. Sometimes it just feels good to see what The North is going to do next.
Run a 5k? A half-marathon? A whole marathon? An ultra- … wait; no, just stop. I’m not running that far. Ever. After two miles, my brain strobe-lights content due to the boredom. I’m everywhere, but “there”. Ugh, running sucks! But, for those people who immerse into the run, it’s their yoga. The breath, the rhythm, the trance.
The gym? Yeah, because wearing earbuds with our face in a cell phone between sets, sitting on a machine, surrounded by TVs is total focus, right? No. But, there are some people who lose the world around them, during that squat and for them, that is their yoga. The focus, the technique, the effort.
Yoga means union. Union with the universe, where our brain, body, spirit and focus all come together as one with our environment. Whatever our yoga is, it should be an absolute doorway to the soul. For me, it’s yoga.
Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash