Breathing…Underwater: Yogis & Divers Alike
Importance of the Breath
Hey divers! Believe it or not, you’re already yogis.
There’s a reason why dive resorts are now offering yoga classes, retreats & packages and encouraging diving staff and guests to participate.
As divers we have always known the importance of our breath. Since the first time we hopped in the pool and learned how slow, relaxed breaths through the regulator affect our focus, buoyancy, air consumption and sense of calmness.
Concurrently, one of the most important aspects of a yoga practice is the use of the breath. The first time we step onto our mat we learn how strength, co-ordination, focus, balance and relaxation are all directly influenced by our breath.
Sensing a theme?
In yoga we learn to stretch our lungs through pranayama (breathing) techniques that promote slow, deep breathing and emphasize proper inhalation & exhalation. These techniques allow us to take full advantage of each breath by breathing into our belly. Abdominal control will help to improve buoyancy and full abdominal breathing (belly breathing) increases relaxation by engaging the parasympathetic nervous system and delivering more oxygen to muscles. For divers this translates to more time, greater awareness and stamina to enjoy our dives.
Not only are there several similarities that exist between diving and yoga but they can in fact act as perfect compliments to each other.
Many people already rave about the benefits of adding a yoga practice to enhance their overall dive experience.
In particular, yoga has a major impact on increased circulation, muscle strength, relaxation, resilience to stress or climatic extremes, lung capacity/function and improved flexibility. Physical (asana) practice will lead to an increase of core strength, balance and stability helping you to maneuver with safety and ease both in and out of the water while carrying full scuba gear.
Source: PADI Blog
Yoga techniques teach you to slow your breath by relaxing your body. Calm the breath, mind and body and dives become longer and more enjoyable. Through meditation learn techniques to visualise your dive and increase breath awareness to slow/control your breath when in mentally or physically challenging situations. (example: strong current, low visibility, increased pressure at deep depths) Meditation teaches you to react calmly in unexpected or stressful circumstances (example: unexpected problem with your gear or change of conditions under water).
How can a yoga practice enhance your diving?
- Improve your balance and stability
- Build core strength to protect your back when carrying tanks and weight
- Build abdominal strength necessary to twist and manoeuvre under water
- Strengthen your legs and hips for walking/standing in full scuba gear
- Strengthen hips and legs to improve your finning
- Increase hip flexibility to improve your frog kicks
- Pre-dive stretching to improve circulation and agility under the water
- Post-dive stretching to relax your muscles after a long day of diving
- Increase your lung capacity & improve buoyancy with deep breathing exercises
- Learn to breathe calmly and steadily during physical exertion
- Learn visualisation techniques to relax yourself before a difficult dive
Even the pros at PADI are encouraging divers to use yoga postures and breathing/meditation to “stay strong & keep calm”.
Source: PADI Blog
How can diving enhance a yoga practice?
Diving is essentially…underwater meditation. As most divers can attest, there’s no other feeling quite like that of a calm, relaxed dive where the cares of the world are nonexistent and the only focus is the sound of your breathing and the magnificence of the underwater world right in front of your eyes. Achieving a single focus state of mind is one of the aims of meditation.
Source: PADI Blog
Being able to achieve this state is beneficial when stepping out of your wetsuit and onto your yoga mat.
“Scuba diving encourages a meditative state which increases consciousness and control of the body, allows us to achieve inner peace through single focus which clears our minds so they become free from our day to day stresses and worries”
The more able we are to achieve a clearer state of mind, the easier it tends to be to find a greater sense of self awareness and mind-body connection through a yoga practice. Clarity of mind can increase focus and relaxation. It makes the time spent on our mat more beneficial because it opens us up to observation and exploration. Two elements of a yoga practice that are essential to learn & grow in appreciation of self discovery.
Guided by the power of the breath in both yoga and diving we harness a meditative state that enhances our self-awarwness and improves well-being. Take the steps towards deepening your relaxation and enjoying the benefits of a calmer mind. Yogis and divers alike; take the plunge then hit the mat.