“Mermaid Slippers”… Why Do My Feet Cry?

“Mermaid Slippers”… Why Do My Feet Cry?


Congratulations! you passed your level 1 freediving course; you are now obsessed with freediving and can’t wait to improve your technique.

First step is freediving equipment and it’s time to buy your first pair of freediving fins, woohoo!


You might order online a pair of lovely long stiff plastic fins, that a nice chap on facebook recommended. No idea if they will fit, but you buy some socks and fin straps just in case the foot pocket is not quite right.

Familiar story for all the dozens of freedivers I know; so hang on, don’t go too mad now. I wish I knew then what I know now

Working full time as a freedive instructor for the past 2 years, sometimes we can clock up to 80 dives per day, chasing students up and down the line.
That is a whole lot of finning, somedays my ankles scream at me.
When I take my fins off at the waters edge, I crouch down into dorsi flexsion, ouch!
My left achilles was tight after every session. Whilst finning at the surface, my right knee cap constantly clicked and don’t even get me started on my tender calf muscles from hours of finning. If my limbs could talk, they would only manage a tear.


From teaching and studying pilates, I can’t help but worry about the knock on affect of the wear and tear of my feet, will I ruin my knees and hips as I get older?

So I investigate my body and start focusing more on mobility and strengthening for my ankles and feet, also carefully addressing my leg alignment and the execution of my kicking. My kicking looks good, but my god the burn on deep dives in my legs and feet.

Here is a little fin history: only when I passed my instructor course, did I allow my self to replace my plastic Cressi long fins (those lovely long stiff plastic fins you were considering) with brand spanking new carbon fins. But the blades were too stiff and the Pathos foot pocket was not designed for the lady foot, I had to wear socks and the foot pocket moved around as I finned, I think I even lost a toe nail at one point too.

This was the start of my problems, but those fins cost big bucks and I was determined get my money’s worth. Let’s be honest, no one gets into freedive instructing for the money.

Next, I happened upon a “donated” a pair of carbon fins for free, that sort of fit, I decided to wear them until they die, which they did. With the next few sets of fins; the foot pockets were either too tight, too loose or the blade was far too stiff.

I was resigned to the fact that I will only use these sorts of fins for safetying and teaching, so its ok, I figured `I would just continue working on my foot and leg exercises to compensate, maybe its just my body getting older?!


Fast forward to Alexey Molchonov coming to Apneista last April with the deep week training camp, this man is full- time deepest freediver in the world/part-time travelling salesman. It seems like everyone is sporting his CS1 custom foot pocket fins.

The custom foot pocket intrigues me, made to measure, I can’t stop thinking about it.
I bite the bullet and I spend the most money I ‘ve ever spent on freediving equipment, the best part of €500.

My new fins arrive after 6 weeks, ooohhh game changer. My right knee, now does not click when surface swimming. The foot pockets with the support arch and open heel are allowing for better foot and leg alignment. My fins do not touch each other through the midline, which I thought was due to a my knees rolling in slightly.

The blades are soft and the fin feels like an extension of my foot, “Mermaid slippers” my student called them. My leg extension feels long and parallel, there is no lactic acid build up in my legs after deep dives, most of all, my ankles do not ache!! I actually enjoyed a deep dive with these fins, who would believe it, and now I’m looking forward to doing more training sessions too.

In summary; you must look after your feet, to look after the rest of your body upwards, its all connected. If you dive a lot or participate in any other sports to that matter and something hurts, then your body is telling you something, investigate it before it becomes chronic.

I’m not suggesting only buy Molchanovs, there are many good models out now, but our bodies are not cookie cutter, try everything then ask for more.

But most importantly; I am not getting older, it was just my poorly fitting fins!


If you want to learn more about how to incorporate Pilates to improve your freediving technique and movement patterns contact Apneista for details about freediving courses.

Anna-marie Richardson
Freediving & Pilates instructor

What are the Mental Health Benefits of Yoga, Meditation and Mindfulness?

What are the Mental Health Benefits of Yoga, Meditation and Mindfulness?

Creating a Perfect Space for Yoga, Meditation and Mindfulness

Finding the right space to practice yoga can be difficult for some. But yoga is an easy way to relax and stretch your muscles, and likewise, the places you can practice it in are varied and adaptable. Here are some of our tips for what to look for in a space for your yoga routine. You should consider a place with lots of life or sunlight, choose a space you are familiar with or comfortable in and don’t worry about needing a wide or fancy place to practice.

You Don’t Need Office Space

Yoga is as much an experience as it is the workout you perform. To that end, finding a wide space isn’t as important as people think. As long as you have a space where you can spread your arms as far as they’ll go, with a space or two in all directions, you have plenty of room. Yoga shouldn’t force you to leave your home or find a gym like other practices, but you may need enough room to spread a mat and stretch yourself out fully once you get started.

Make It A Familiar Location

A lot of yoga is about relaxation and mental preparation. That’s why the best places for practicing yoga are ones you are familiar with. Choose a place that’s part of your daily life, or where you often go to when you’re relaxing. We recommend finding a relatively quiet room away from televisions or noisy areas, but some people enjoy just the opposite! Just make sure the place you choose isn’t a thoroughfare, because you don’t want people tripping over your yoga routine.

Make It Bright And Healthy

And when you’ve got a space picked out, brighten it up. An outdoor space is often the best place to practice yoga because you can enjoy it amid the sunlight and feel of nature. But wherever you choose, you should consider adding a bit of unique decoration, like a basket of flowers or a natural element such as a water installation, to tie you to the space. Practicing in an outside space in this manner can help tie you, nature, and the world as a whole together in your mind.

In The End

Yoga is well known for its ease of access, but many people worry about finding adequate space to practice. A safe yoga space doesn’t need to be large, just as long as you can lay down and stretch. We suggest you find a place outside in the sun or near a garden or natural growth. The most important part is just finding a place that calms you or that you have an emotional connection with so that you’ll be compelled to come back more often to enjoy yourself.

Post written by Cassie Steele

For more information on freediving courses or yoga please get in touch.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness Meditation And The Great Outdoors: A Winning Combination For Mental Health

If you have already booked your freediving or yoga course in Bali, chances are, you are well aware of the immense benefits the Great Outdoors can bring. One well-known study by the Loyola University Health System found that nature has a powerful effect on our physical and mental health. “When we walk in a forest or park, our levels of white blood cells increase and it also lowers our pulse rate, blood pressure and level of the stress hormone cortisol,” noted Dr. Aaron Michelfelder, researcher. However, when we include mindfulness-based practices such as yoga and meditation into the experience, the results are all the more beneficial.

Mindfulness meditation vs anxiety and depression

Depression and anxiety are the two most common mental conditions faced by human beings on a global scale. A study published inJAMA Internal Medicine found that mindfulness meditation improves symptoms of anxiety, depression, and pain. It also reduces levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) and boosts quality of life. The scientists concluded that doctors “should be prepared to talk with their patients about the role that a meditation program can have in addressing psychological stress.” Mindfulness meditation, like other spiritual practices, boosts mental health by keeping the mind in the present moment. During a session, practitioners are encouraged to recognise and feel all emotions, even the difficult ones, yet understand that these emotions are impermanent and do not define who they are.

Mindfulness meditation and brain function

A study by scientists at Massachusetts University showed that taking part in an eight-week mindfulness meditation program fostered measurable changes in the parts of the brain associated with memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress. The study showed that among meditators, grey matter density was increased in the hippocampus, which is vital for learning and memory, as well as in structures that play a role in self-awareness, compassion, and introspection.

Meanwhile, those who meditated had decreased grey matter in the amygdala, which is involved in anxiety and stress. The scientists said that their results demonstrate “that the first-person experience of stress can not only be reduced with an eight-week mindfulness training program but that this experiential change corresponds with structural changes in the amygdala, a finding that opens doors to many possibilities for further research on (meditation’s) potential to protect against stress-related disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.”


The vital role that nature plays

There is a reason why the world’s most highly solicited yoga and meditation retreats take place by majestic natural settings such as mountains, lakes, forests, or seas. Nature boosts the effects of meditation because simply visiting a green area or seaside setting lowers levels of stress hormone, cortisol. Various studies have been carried out on this subject, with amazing results. For instance, one study found that people who exercised by looking at natural scenery enjoyed their workout much more. Another found that when offices were filled with plants, employees improved their performance. Still, other studies have focused on the role that time in nature can help children with ADD/ADHD.

Mindfulness meditation and other types of meditation, including transcendental meditation, wields countless benefits, including greater vitality, better mood, a heightened sense of empathy, and more. However, nature experiences have similar effects. Imagine the combined power of joining these two activities. Most interestingly of all, the benefits you will receive will last for years after intensive meditation training. Of course, because meditation is so beneficial, it is a practice we should keep up for our lifetime.

Post written by Cassie Steele

Free Yoga classes in Amed Bali

Free Yoga classes in Amed Bali

Instead of forking out hundreds of dollars for a high end retreat, come and join us for free in Amed and spend your money with the locals.

To show our appreciation for the volunteers who are working with the evacuees  and intrepid travllers unfazed by scaremongering, we’re offering a full and on-going schedule that’s free. All are welcome and 100 % of donations will go to evacuees.

The schedule is flexible and we’re happy to hear from passionate teachers who want to get involved. This iniciative will be ongoing while we have teachers who are prepared to share their skills in the spirit of  Karma Yoga. There is no ash in Amed and even when the column of ash was 3 km high it there was still no noticeable amounts.

Come and share your practice.

Is Amed safe?

Is Amed safe?

Again today the Volcano is silent, and no steam or ash is spewing.

The sun is shining and the water is flat, but there are almost no tourists. Just some intrepid travelllers and volunteers helping out with camps.

There are many opinions online regarding the safety of tourists coming to Amed, some working from tabloid sources, such as the express.uk. (blatant fear-mongering)

According to the Volcanologist Devy Kamil Syahbana from Indonesia’s volcanology center, volcanologists are working on a model that predicts a potential eruption VEI 3 compared to one of 5 in 63. (VEI= Volcanic explosivity index)Doctor Syahbana is at the Rendang post working on this every day. There are other possible projection models but so far none of them in Bali are predicting a larger eruption than 63.

To clarify, Amed was considered safe in 63, according to people who lived through it and are quite calm at the moment. ’63 was a VEI 5 eruption and the present potential is projected on the ground as being VEI 3.
No-one is pretending that a large eruption will be pretty, including outside of the redzone. There might be significant ashfall and definitely more evacuees, at least. That said we have made a decision to stay open based on various factors-

  • Talking to people who lived through the 1963 eruption, they had minimal ash in Amed area.
  • Looking at the topography of the land between the Amed coast and mount Agung, protecting us from lava and pyroclastic flows.
  • Taking into account prevailing winds in this area, winds coming due east from Agung are very rare.
  • Listening to the voices of the experts, none of whom are predicting and eruption as big as 63.

That said, if the eruption happens there is a small chance the road around Tulamben and Amlapura will be blocked, in this situation the only course of action is to wait till they are cleared or for evacuation by sea. For this reason we don’t recommend package tourists or people on a very tight schedule in and out of Bali.

We invite independent travellers to visit this beautiful area at this historic moment, when the Holy mountain is waking up. We are still freediving and are now offering free yoga and mind/body workshops.

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