Yoga and freediving: Lessons for both

Living in Hawaii provides me with the opportunity to practice both Yoga and freediving as often as I like. These activities are intimately related, and both connect to the core principle of Yoga: breath work.

Yoga is a physical movement that’s led by the breath, while freediving is a bodily movement with breath-holding.

Yoga can also improve freediving by increasing lung capacity and tissue flexibility. Lessons learned while underwater and moving under pressure will help you improve your yoga practice.

The Breath – Lessons from the Breath

Freediving is a practice that has been around for many years. Evidence from the Baltic Sea shores shows evidence of apnea or diving with just one breath. Yoga has also a long and rich history. Some scholars think it’s been around for at least 10,000 years.

Since I started practicing Yoga, my ability to breathe underwater has improved significantly. Yoga breathwork is what I use to makeYogayoga practice enjoyable and my dives in the Pacific spectacular.

It’s not the depth I can reach in the asanas or dives that matters to me. Instead, it is the satisfaction I get from maximizing my potential as a diver and a yogi and as a grateful and breathing sentient being.

The first thing anyone who steps into a yoga class learns is that breathing is the most important action. While a freediver might be interested in breathing in order to increase the efficiency of oxygen in their bloodstream, yoga breath work deliberately focuses its attention on cleansing the mind and body in order to improve energy.

Keep Calm in Pressure

In a situation of high pressure, it is important to maintain a calm and relaxed mind. Yoga and freediving both benefit from transforming hard, nervous energy into surrender and softness. With practice, it happens.

The softness of the water allows you to move more efficiently in an atmosphere 8 times denser than air. A swimmer who is not fluid and relaxed in their movements will waste energy and oxygen. Yoga is no different.

Have you ever seen someone doing Yoga with furrowed eyebrows? Perhaps they grimace or clench their teeth while in Garudasana (Eagle Pose)Yogaen, one’s face is tense; it can be a sign of inner tension. It makes it difficult to move fluidly in and out of asana or even through water.

The best advice about swimming I have read was to imagine yourself as a liquid moving through the water rather than as a solid. This is more of a mental advice than a technique for swimming or finning.

This is also true for yoga classes, where a teacher may remind students to relax their faces or shoulders, to soften their muscles, or to send their breath to areas of tension in the body.

Learn to Move Fluidly

Divers can learn from the advice of freediving to move as if they were in the water. Similarly, yogis can learn from Yoga to soften their faces, shoulders, and muscles. These complementary pieces of advice can not only leadYogabetter asanas or more time underwater but also a complete transformation of your life.

The yogi can easily activate deliberate movements between the muscular and skeletal system by following the advice of the swimmers to not push against but instead yield. This is only possible with practice and time, just like in freediving. This requires a lot of practice and time.

Freediving and Yoga are meant to remind us that we are fluid at our core.

Relax and move as if you were liquid, in and Yogaof the water. In the words of Ricardo Montabalan, from a now-defunct television show, “Smile everyone!”

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