“Freediving and Yoga, mutually illuminating and complementary”
Training in Yoga for freedivers has become almost a cliche in the world of freediving, going back to the Jaques Mayol up to today with many photos of freedivers sitting in lotus position, (often on corals in the case of the less aware divers!)
Beyond the cliche there are some very good reasons why yoga practices have been considered so helpful to the freediver. There are two main aspects, the simple physiological benefits of the practices themselves and the mindset for good yoga practice is meditative, as it is for freediving.
We use techniques from Yoga and meditation in all our courses, especially in the master course. We are even expecting to offer Yoga teaching training in 2018 for freediving yogis who want to share their passion.
Asana- physical yoga for freedivers
On the purely physical level the practice of asana gives us strength, flexibility and good motor firing patterns. This gives us fluid and less wasteful movement in water, meaning longer bottom times and higher comfort levels. The ability to consciously disengage muscles, an important part of asana practice, means less Co2 production in static training or slow free immersion dives.
Pranayama-breath yoga for freedivers
Pranayama is the science of breath control and development of subtle awareness. It is the fourth limb in ashtanga yoga and has very obvious benefits for the freediver. Increased breath awareness and control is an important tool for developing confidence and relaxation in the water.
Bhandas- psycho-muscular yoga for freedivers
Bhandas help develop core strength for good freedive finning technique. They also increase thoracic flexibility to prepare for the pressure of deeper dives below residual volume. They also help the freediver develop greater control over the nervous system and a deeper body awareness. This helps the freediver maintain inner stillness in challenging situations.
Meditation, visualisation and concentration training, mental yoga for freedivers.
There is a huge mental aspect to freediving, especially at the beginner level. The ability to relax is of massive benefit to the freediver, resulting in more enjoyable, safer and longer dives.
Visualisation and concentration training helps one learn motor skills quicker and develop confidence, this is integral to our approach to freediving. The ancient insights of Yoga are completely validated by modern advances in neuroscience and sports psychology. We make use of these in our freediving courses but we also offer more indepth classes and workshops.
See a nice article on yoga and freediving here.