Wim Hof, better known as the Iceman for his temperature defying feats, claims that what he does is something anyone can learn. Using a specific breathing method, Wim Hof claims that he is able to control his temperature, and even how often he needs to breathe in extreme cold. However, on the website where the Wim Hof method is explained, there is a warning to not attempt it near or within bodies of water, or anywhere that the risk of fainting could lead to severe injury or drowning death.
The method is described to provide a meditative sensation for users. Some have integrated the Wim Hof method into their exercise routines, mostly without incident. Sadly, this is not always the case.
In Sacramento, a popular local yoga instructor was visiting the Asha Urban Baths on July 18th. He was found alone and unconscious in the water. Despite efforts at UC Davis Medical Center, Aaron Pappas passed away on July 23rd. The victim’s girlfriend claimed that he had been practicing the Wim Hof method recently. Reportedly he may have done so before entering the water, or while partially immersed
Unsafe practices around water, increased drowning death risk
Aaron Pappas’ drowning death is the second occurrence drownings under similar circumstances. Earlier in June, an Israeli man drowned in the Yuba River. He was practicing a form of meditation that involves floating face down in the water.
A friend of the victim was practicing his own meditation when they noticed the victim was completely unresponsive in the water. Despite attempted resuscitation, he was declared dead when law enforcement arrived on the scene.
The Wim Hof method is discouraged around bodies of water, due to increased risk of fainting. Without someone present or attentive, an unconscious individual could drown swiftly even in shallow water. The longer they remain in the water without breathing, there is greater possibility that they suffer permanent brain damage or death.
A similar risk could be assumed with the face-down water meditation technique, though it is exacerbated by cold water of the Yuba River. With snow run off lowering river temperatures this year, Sacramento sheriffs have issued warnings about local rivers. This year has been especially deadly in the Central Valley’s rivers.
A community and a family left reeling
Aaron Pappas’ untimely passing at age 40 has left local yoga enthusiasts, friends, and family in grief. Known for his smile, love of yoga, and willingness to help other’s in need, Mr. Pappas was a well-loved community figure. Having found yoga in the mid-1990’s, Aaron sought to use it to help others heal from trauma, and also to provide others comfort from addiction. He was known across California for his work in schools, at addiction recovery centers, and with wounded war veterans.
He is survived by his mother, three siblings, and numerous other relatives around the United States.
His mother’s voice joins a chorus of warnings regarding what the CDC describes as dangerous underwater breath-holding behaviors. With luck, another family and community may be able to avoid a devastating local tragedy.