Yoga And Scuba Diving – The Zen Of Blowing Bubbles
“The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination
and brings eternal joy to the soul.”
– Robert Wyland
My heart is pounding, my body is shaking and my mind is racing. I’m terrified … but of what? Jumping into the ocean – something I had done countless times before. So, why am I so afraid this time?
It is our first day scuba diving and due to a mix up at the dive shop scheduling open water courses, we find ourselves kitted up and jumping in the water before receiving any classroom instruction. For some reason this scares me. Shouldn’t I at least have something beyond basic theory before jumping in with both feet – literally?
With a lot of coaxing from our instructor and Alex, who has no problem jumping right in, I take a few deep, calming breaths and give myself over to the moment. I take that first big giant stride, and guess what? It’s no big deal! What I realize is that my yoga training has helped me overcome my fears and enjoy the experience. I also realize that yoga and scuba diving have much in common.
The focus for both is breath, body and mind.
The first thing I learned in yoga was how to control my breathing. Pranayama is taking in long, deep breaths through the nose, expanding the lungs and releasing the breath slowly while relaxing the body and mind.
The first lesson in scuba diving, even before we jump off the side of the boat, is to never, never, never hold your breath – the number one rule. The next lesson for diving also involves breathing. If you find yourself in a challenging situation or dealing with fear, the first things to do are stop, breathe and think. Good advice yoga and scuba diving – in the water, on the mat, and in life.
I don’t practice Ujayai breathing (deep yoga breaths) while scuba diving, but I do use long slow inhales and exhales to help conserve my air and enjoy a longer bottom time. This type of breathing has a very calming effect on the body and mind, and the sound of blowing bubbles underwater is very relaxing and can be a good focus for controlling the jitters.
Buoyancy and control are two essential elements to becoming a skilled diver. Once a diver can control their buoyancy and movements, diving becomes an amazing underwater experience. The secret to control? You guessed it – breath.
While fitness is not necessarily the main focus of both yoga and diving, it is definitely a benefit. Yoga asanas done regularly will help you to become fit, and being fit will help you to become a better diver.
Scuba diving can be a physically demanding sport. The gear alone weighs quite a bit, and often you may find yourself lugging tanks down the beach for a shore dive, hauling yourself out of the water onto the boat in rough conditions, or swimming against a strong current. Yoga asanas will keep you strong and flexible, thereby helping to avoid fatigue and injury in less than ideal conditions.
Knowing you have the physical strength to complete a challenging dive increases your confidence and enjoyment of the dive.
I’m an anxious person and when the divemaster starts the safety briefing for the dive ahead, my anxiety can become overwhelming. This is when my yoga and scuba diving training really come together.
I stop, breathe and think – what if something goes wrong? Most likely nothing will go wrong, and I tell myself I have the skills to deal with it on the off chance something does. Deep breaths help to calm and focus the mind for the upcoming dive. Once in the water, the dive itself is a meditation of its own.
Unfortunately, something that also comes to mind when scuba diving are the effects of human carelessness on the underwater world. Seeing discarded trash and fishing equipment in the ocean makes me mindful of my . Everywhere I dive, I am reminded of the ocean’s fragility, which makes us want me want to .
Yoga And Scuba Diving
In addition to my regular home practice, I like to do a few Sun Salutations before doing any yoga and scuba diving. The beauty of sun salutes is that they can be done anywhere – at home, on the dock or even on the boat (if it’s large enough). They slow your breathing, stretch and warm your entire body, and calm your mind to prepare you for the rigors of the dive.
So, I jump in the water, take my first breaths beneath it surface, and my life is transformed from that moment on. Scuba diving has become the focus of my travels and provides . There’s something about being underwater that makes everything else disappear. There is no yesterday or tomorrow, only the present moment and incredible sights I am seeing right now.