Nothing gives me more joy than writing about my two passions: scuba diving and yoga.
First, what is pranayama?
Pranayama is one of the main limbs of yoga which focuses on breath work or explicitly controlling the breath. Experienced divers can control their buoyancy by just using their lung capacity and breathing.
Monks say the only thing which stays with you from birth to death is your breath. Being able to control your breath means being able to control your moods. During my time working as a divemaster I have seen many clients panicking, breathing rapidly and as a result lose every sense of buoyancy, which mostly resulted in shooting up to the surface.
If you master your breath you can become a way more relaxed scuba diver, consume less air and therefore you can enjoy your dives more and longer 🙂
So how can we combine the ancient traditions of pranayama with becoming a better scuba diver and in general become a more relaxed, healthy version of our selves?!
Let me introduce to you the 3 best pranayama exercises to become a better scuba diver!
Nasagra Mudra (alternate nostril breathing)
- Get in a comfortable seating position.
- Index and middle finger are resting between the eyebrows
- The thumb is next to the right nostril and ring finger is next to the left nostril
- Close the right nostril with the thumb and inhale and exhale through the left nostril 5 times
- While doing so count to 5 in your head
- After the 5 breath switch sides – closing the left nostril with your ring finger
- Start by practicing 5 rounds or 5 minutes
After some weeks of practice, you will see the lengths of your breath increasing. Nasagra Mudra is also an amazing calming practice for people with anxiety and panic attacks.
Ujjayi Breathing (ocean breath)
- Get in a comfortable seated position
- Start by breathing in and out, becoming aware of your breath
- On the next exhale contract the back if your throat like when you whisper or fog up a window
- Now start making an Ahh sound while inhaling and
- Your breath should now sound like the ocean or the sound when you hold a shell on your ear
- Next close your mouth and only breath through your nose (maintain the contracted throat)
- Concentrate on the ocean sounds while breathing
- Be aware of where you breath goes. Inhale deeply until the deepest corner of your abdomen and exhale until you feel like all the air is out of your body
Ujjayi breathing is soothing and energizing at the same time. It helps in becoming more aware of your breath and what your lung is capable of. At the same time, it is calming on the mind and can help with controlling panic attacks while diving.
Antar Kumbhaka (breath retention)
- Get comfortable in a crossed leg seating position
- Start using ujjayi breathing as explained above
- Ujjayi breathing should be repeated 3 times
- After the last exhale take a long inhale, filling the air inside your lower abdomen to your lung
- Now hold your breath
- While doing so lean forward head toward the chest resting your hand palms in front of you on the floor
- When you can not hold your breath any longer come back in an upward position and exhale slowly with a straight back
It will take months of practice to maintain holding the breath for minutes but it is for sure the best exercise for apnoea diving.
Let me give you more insight into why this particular exercise is amazing for you:
The human being needs 21% oxygen and 79% nitrogen to survive. That is the air formula inside the tanks you get for scuba diving. After the body has used the oxygen and nitrogen we exhale carbon dioxide. Due to constant stress and obesity, we become unable to breathe the right way. This leads to not being able to breathe out the used carbon dioxide properly. It stays stuck inside the lung taking away space for the oxygen and nitrogen to flow in when inhaling again. That is called the dead air space.
It is also known as shortness of breath which can lead to lung disease, weakness of muscles around the abdominal area, anxiety and heart disease.
Pranayama exercises especially Antar Kumbhaka is amazing to relearn the ability to use the full potential of our lung capacity.
I practice Pranayama every second day. I find it to be quite tiring sometimes and therefore do it before sleep when I know nothing else has to be done for the rest of the day. It is best practiced next to a river or the ocean. Since that is not possible for everyone just make sure the place of practice is filled with clean air. Be aware, that no Pranayama exercise should be practiced while having a congested nose due to a cold or hayfever.
Thank you for dropping by and reading my blog post! Namaste 🙂