“I will continue to dive until I know within myself that I must stop.” Jacques Mayol

When I first began reviewing the six-part Yoga for Freediving series by 4-time Freediving World Record holder and Kundalini Yoga Instructor Sara Campbell, I had no idea how transformative and challenging it would be. In this last course, Pre-Dive Preparation, Sara builds on the practices from the previous videos in a very specific set of Kundalini Yoga techniques designed for the Freediver. This comprehensive course of study has been instrumental in increased performance in my own freediving and allowed me to build the foundation for my own yoga practice.

“I have used Kundalini Yoga throughout my freediving career – the ancient wisdom tradition of the teachings, the yogic understanding of the mind, and the physical exercises to get my body in the perfect state for diving.” Sara Campbell

In our reviews of the first five series from the Yoga for Freediving course, Deep RelaxationManage Your MindEnergy Beyond Breath, Training and Performance, and Success and Failure we built a foundation for of meditative practices and began a journey of discovery. Up to this point, the student has learned about Yoga and how to develop a daily meditative practice. Taking those core skills and philosophies taught in the course and working on Kriyas, or movements, while guided by Sara as she leads the student through the implementation of the new skills, the practitioner has grown comfortable with yoga and understands how the courses contribute to being a better freediver.

“Growth and understanding become the foundation that sustains you through any and all worldly difficulties, and that allows you-whatever the form of your physical experience, to find in life a continuously unbroken flow of total well-being.”  Swami Chetanananda

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With each of the six courses, Sara is including 22 bonus Yoga for Freediving ‘How To‘ and ‘About‘ videos. These free modules cover the essential techniques and terminology used throughout the program and each video is a stand-alone training tool. The Yoga sections are designed to help you create a regular meditation practice that will serve both freedivers and non-divers alike. If you are just now discovering Yoga for Freediving, then Sara recommends you watch the “How To” and “About” videos to gain a better understanding of how these amazing yogic techniques work and can help you throughout this course.

In Pre-Dive Preparation, the eight videos prepare the freediver through guided Kundalini Yoga techniques (learned in the previous modules) and specific lung stretching exercises to complete pre-dive warm-ups.

Pre-Dive Preparation caps the previous five courses, bringing the practical application of Kundalini Yoga to life within the realm of freedive training. The course’s two sections are designed to “get you in the right frame of body and mind” prior to freediving.

In my own experience, before a deep dive and especially in competition, many freedivers don’t know what to do before they get in the water. They can find the first few warm-ups to be stressful or uncomfortable, causing them to fail to calm down, get focused and relax in the water. Sara describes that “These exercises ensure that you are calm, focused and relaxed from the first warm-up…saving you time, energy and effort – and if you’re diving in colder waters, this can be crucial to getting the most out of your precious dive session.

Preparing yourself mind, body and soul for your diving needs to be reliably executed. This course gives you a clear, simple and effective routine, which will grow with you as you advance, to ensure you are 100% ready to dive.

“Pre-dive Preparation brings you two core stretching modules; pre-dive warm-ups based on Kundalini Yoga; and lung stretches. Both of these are key, particularly for deep diving, where adaptation to depth is essential.” Sara Campbell

As mentioned in past reviews, each course in the series builds on the previous one, providing a comprehensive and detailed training regimen. Sara recommends that you take the courses in order. The How To videos are also being released on Sara’s YouTube Channel – please subscribe to receive the videos and other exciting updates.

“I have structured the courses, and the videos within the courses, to take freedivers of all levels on a journey which is meaningful and will really help them to make changes to their performance in, and relationship with, the ocean.” Sara Campbell

In Pre-Dive Preparation, Sara guides the freediver in yoga Kriyas (exercises of practices) specific to preparing one’s body and mind for freediving. The emphasis in this series is specifically for freediving. The eight videos in this course are:

  • Warm-ups: Introduction
  • Warm-ups: Beginners
  • Warm-ups: Intermediate
  • Warm-ups: Advanced
  • Introduction to Lung Stretches
  • Lung Stretches: Beginners
  • Lung Stretches: Intermediate
  • Lung Stretches: Advanced

As freedivers, we are concerned with increasing our comfort and performance in the water, learning new techniques that will enhance our safety and enjoyment of the sport, and mastering style, form, and execution. The Yoga for Freediving series is not a “novel approach”, but a systematic and thorough introduction to tried and proven methods to become a better freediver. Whether one is new to the sport or a world-class competitor, experience has shown thousands of freedivers that Yoga will improve their diving.

Importantly, the practice of Yoga is one element of freediving that translates to improving our overall sense of well-being, mental and physical health and gives us tools to cope with stress and challenges in the “everyday” and not just on a dive.

“These exercises, which I had adapted to incorporate the stretches I feel are most beneficial to freediving preparation, are the most effective way to get ready to get in the water.” Sara Campbell

At the beginning of this journey, Sara suggested you set up a meditation corner in your home. So, your “yoga corner” is set up, you have your yoga mat and a meditation cushion (I recommend a thick, comfortable one), and you are keeping a journal to map your progress and insights.

Sara Campbell. Photo Credit Jacque de Vos
Sara Campbell. Photo Credit Jacque de Vos

Introduction

In this 7:27 minute video, Sara introduces Pre-Dive Preparation and describes the process the students will use for the course. She discusses who the Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced videos will be most appropriate for and how we will begin by “Tuning In”. You will be taught how to coordinate your mental “vibration” to your breathing using the Adi MantraOng Namo Guru Dev Namo” which will be used on every pre-dive warm-up.

Beginners

This 27 minute video is a guided Kriya that starts with “Tuning In” and then a series of powerful exercises to stretch one’s lungs and the surrounding muscular-skeletal structures. These guided exercises are tough! You will be up to the task, but be prepared to sweat a bit! This is where you are putting all the weeks of yoga up to this point to a very practical, freediver-centric use.

The first yoga exercise is Sufi Grinding, followed by Spinal Flexing the lower and the upper spine, Spinal Twists and Neck Rolls, along with specific breathing exercises and guided participation.

Intermediate

The 29 minutes of guided stretching and breathing in this warm-up is designed for the Intermediate Diver and is correspondingly more challenging. Sara introduces “Packing” in between the exercises as well.

“Packing is a useful tool in freediving training. Packing must be introduced and used with CAUTION and respect as it carries certain risks and adverse effects for the freediver. Packing when used in dry stretching routines is very useful for increasing the lung capacity, enabling a freediver to inhale more deeply. It is used widely in pool competitive disciplines and by seriously deep freedivers (70/80m and more).” How To Pack Bonus Video

One of the excellent features of this course of study are the specific, targeted “How To…” videos that are included with each course. These are richly detailed and go into much greater depth about specific concepts or Kriyas.

The more strenuous level of exercises in this module will engage more of the connective tissues, the diaphragm and rib-cage, as well as a host of other physiological and mental benefits.

Advanced

This 33 minute video is geared for the Advanced and competitive freediver. The exercises build on the previous two videos and introduces additional, advanced stretching techniques geared to really targeting the muscles, ligaments and bony structures that are engaged by advanced freedivers. Sara tells how these exact stretches allowed her to enter the water and complete her 100+m dive with NO prior in-water warm-up!

“Lung stretches are an essential part of our physical training, not only to increase our inhale and thereby bring in more oxygen before a dive, but more importantly to decrease the residual capacity, i.e. the amount we are able to exhale, so that our lungs and surrounding tissue can compress further at depth, without injury or needing to rely on advanced equalization techniques.” Sara Campbell

Sara Campbell world Champion freediver running freediving courses in Dahab. Egypt. Photo Credit Dan Burton
Sara Campbell world Champion freediver running freediving courses in
Dahab. Egypt. Photo Credit Dan Burton

Introduction to Lung Stretches

Sara introduces the lung-stretching component to this course in this 5:27 minute video. In the next series of videos concerning lung-stretching, Sara covers a number of very specific exercises geared to freedivers. It is important to do the video appropriate to your level of training and experience.

Lung Stretches Beginners

Sara discusses the problems that beginner freedivers face. In this 12:06 minute course, she refers to the “How To…” series of videos and suggests reviewing “How to Get the Deepest Inhale” prior to watching this lesson. This first level of lung stretches is ideal for beginners as it teaches the basic stretch routine, preparing the lungs for the pressure of depths up to around 20-30m.

“It is recommended to master these stretches before progressing on to the more advanced routines, to strengthen your lung and airway tissue to reduce risk of injury from squeezes. The more you work on your adaptation early on, the better prepared your body will be for greater pressures going forward.” Sara Campbell

Lung Stretches Intermediate

This intermediate lung stretch sequence builds on the first level, increasing the pressure and tension on both the inhale and exhale lung stretches. Divers who are reaching residual volume, or reaching their Frenzel failure depth, should ideally be working with these stretches. In this 13 minute video, Sara introduces progressive stretching, including the Uddiyana Bhanda, for which she gives credit for helping her perfect, to 18-time World Record holder William Trubridge, famous for his nearly disappearing abdomen when performing Uddiayana Bhanda. We are also introduced to using packing and reverse packing as part of preparations. As usual, there is a “How To…” video for this!

Lung Stretches Advanced

In this 16 minute, final video in the course and in the series we explore advanced techniques used by advanced, competitive freedivers. If you are in this class of athlete, you are working on exceptional physical conditioning…diving to depths of 70,80 even more than 100 meters, you know the potential issues inherent with the great pressures at these depths can be mitigated by proper conditioning of the body…by using the techniques in this series.

The entire section on lung stretching takes a step by step approach. Designed to allow the practitioner to progress within their own limitations, these lessons will increase your capacity both on the inhale and the exhale. The author notes that it is important to progress slowly, but that even if you stay with the beginner exercises, your lung capacities will adapt and you will experience benefits on both ends of the scale.

“Don’t be in a hurry to progress to the intermediate and advanced levels, allow the changes and adaptation to occur naturally, without forcing and rushing. Nature will take its course, your body will adapt, and it will do so best if you work with patience and respect for your body and the law of nature at work within you.” Sara Campbell

These advanced lung stretches are for divers who are using the mouth-fill and are going to 50m and beyond. The pressure of these deep dives needs to be supported by dry exercises to ensure the lungs are flexible and strong and can handle the increasing pressure without suffering damage. Sara advises divers to progress slowly and conservatively, even with dry stretching, to ensure your body adapts at a healthy rate and is never over-stressed. “Work with respect to our body” and be safe, admonishes Sara.

Sara Campbell. Photo Credit Discover Your Depths
Sara Campbell. Photo Credit Discover Your Depths

Summary

This capstone segment in the six-segment Yoga for Freediving series of video classes brings all the previously learned elements together. Whether a novice to our sport, or a seasoned competitor, the exercises in Pre-Dive Preparation encourage the freediver to combine the warm-up exercises with the lung stretch sequences to create a pre-dive warm-up which will target all the areas needed to focus on: Mind, Body and Spirit.

In the past thirteen months since reviewing Deep Relaxation: Yoga for Freediving, I have entered in both pool and depth freediving competitions internationally. I have had the opportunity to freedive in the Baltic Sea, the Aegean Sea, the North Sea, the Atlantic Ocean and the Red Sea and every time I get in the water, my comfort and my acceptance of the dive and the experience increases.

From a novice freediver, to a competitor…the Yoga for Freediving Series by Sara Campbell has changed my life. This last course will give me the tools necessary to become a better, safer, and more joyful freediver. Sat Nam.

“The sea is only the embodiment of a
supernatural and wonderful existence.
It is nothing but love and emotion;
it is the ‘Living Infinite…” Jules Verne

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More About This Course

  • Features:
    • Eight videos and over two hours of specific coursework that guide the diver in Pre-Dive Preparation with a 4-time World Champion freediver.
    • a further two hours of tips and technique training in 22 “HOW TO…” videos
    • video streaming on any mobile device
    • MP3 audio downloads of the lectures and visualizations to take with you wherever you want
    • step by step program guidelines to ensure you are focused on letting go of the old paradigms and adopting a new attitude towards Success and Failure.
    • PREMIUM clients will receive a personal online consultation and three one to one sessions with Sara.
  • PRICE: $50 USD
  • Available from www.yogaforfreediving.com

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REVIEW OVERVIEW
Yoga for Freediving: Pre-Dive Preparation
John Griffith
John Griffith is an avid SCUBA and Freediver based in Southeast Florida, with over 34 years of experience in the recreational, military and commercial dive fields. Retired from military service, John completed Bachelor Degrees in both Business Administration and Journalism, a M.Ed and PhD in Education. John is a driven conservationist and social activist...with a great passion for sharks, cigars, rum and writing. John is an Associate Editor with DeeperBlue.com.

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