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Scuba Diving & Yoga: The Similarities & Benefits

Scuba diving and yoga; two activities that seem so far apart, yet hold so many similarities. So much so that scuba retreats around the world incorporate yoga as part of their products and services and vice versa. Google the term ‘scuba yoga retreat’ to see for yourself. But, why exactly? Both novice and advanced scuba diving enthusiasts are recognizing that practicing yoga can drastically improve their overall scuba diving experience, a reason why so many divers are now incorporating yoga as a crucial element in their pre-dive routine. They also share many intangible similarities, too, which have to do with feeling connected – with yourself and your surroundings. Both practices are known to instill a deep sense of calmness and even deeper meditative states. So, how exactly does this happen? Read on to learn how scuba diving and yoga at their core hold numerous synergies.

It’s all about the breathing

Sure, yoga is known to be a spiritual practice to many, but the key and underlying principles to yoga actually teach slower breathing techniques and exercises, designed to relax your immediate mental and physical state. When scuba diving, these techniques, and exercises are essential in calming you before you hit the water, and once you are submerged, too. As you start to really hone in on these skills, your overall scuba diving experience will improve. You should start to notice your dives will last longer and generally become a lot more pleasant as your focus sharpens, soaking in much more of the dive. Committing to an ongoing yoga program will teach you to become aware of your irregular breathing patterns. This especially becomes useful when faced with unexpected challenges below the water’s surface. The point is to catch yourself doing this by becoming self-aware since breathing is something we do every day without even thinking. Being able to catch yourself breathing irregularly allows you to then be able to change your focus and concentrate on calming yourself by bringing your breaths to the centre of your attention again. This will, in turn, keep your mind alert and your body in a relaxed state to handle any sticky situations that may suddenly arise.

Scuba Diving & Yoga
Scuba Diving & Yoga

Learning to catch yourself and, therefore, control your breathing is just one aspect that yoga teaches. The other is learning how to inhale deeper and exhale longer properly. Deeper breathing means that you will use a much larger lung capacity than your everyday shallower breaths and, therefore, will provide your mind and body with a more appropriate dose of oxygen they require to function properly when exploring new depths. This is particularly good for novice divers as they tend to be a lot more nervous prior to entering the sea, and as a result, they tend to go through their oxygen supply a lot quicker than someone who has been diving for a longer period of time. Another reason is that novice divers have not yet been exposed to the change in water pressure when submerged. Adjusting to the pressure below the water’s surface is also crucial in sustaining your oxygen supply. Novice scuba divers are still getting used to this sudden change and are not used to the body’s natural reaction, which automatically triggers a response that involves more rapid and shallower breaths, usually creating panic and causing the divers anxiety levels to increase. Learning to properly inhale and exhale will help counter these issues when scuba diving.

Emphasis on exhaling for longer is just as important as learning to inhale deeper. The reason being is that your body not only requires clean air to function properly, but it also needs to dispose of the dirty air (carbon dioxide) that your body turns clean oxygen into upon inhalation. Exhaling prevents this dirty air to build up in your system. If a build of carbon dioxide does occur, your body will naturally trigger irregular and panicky breathing, and again causing the divers anxiety levels to go up. Learning to exhale properly will avoid this build from ever happening and will help you stay calm, alert and able to enjoy your diving experience to the full potential.

Other benefits and similarities

Up until now, scuba diving has been seen as an extreme, adventure seeking sport. But that is slowly changing as emerging data reveals that many take to the water to escape the everyday hassles of life and to also relieve stress. The general consensus being that the meditative benefits of yoga can also be experienced through scuba diving. One reason people associate diving as a tranquil getaway is due to its anti-gravity feel. Once in the water, the body becomes buoyant and enters a neutral state of being. This feeling tends to induce a relaxed state of mind which extends to your body, too, creating a calm floating sensation.

Scuba Diving & Yoga
Scuba Diving & Yoga

Freediving and drift diving are two great diving methods that offer a truly unique experience which closely resemble the free flowing and tranquil feelings typically associated with practicing yoga. Drift diving is known to many diving experts to be one of the most pleasurable below water experiences. Unlike other forms of scuba diving, drift diving relies on natural currents to effortlessly guide you through the ocean while you get flow over amazing reef’s and witness colorful marine life that would usually be missed due to higher levels of concentration needed for typical scuba diving sessions. Although, it is usually advanced divers who perform drift diving as certain skills and techniques are needed to perform it well. It’s also recommended that gaining some insight from local instructors about how the current works and the best time to go drift diving are as natural currents can sometimes be a little unpredictable, depending on time and year etc. Freediving is also considered to be another effortless form of diving. Unlike drift diving, though, freediving requires weaker currents so you can slowly move around at your own pace to where ever you desire. It offers another level of intimacy with sea creatures as there are no bubbles to scare them off. This combined with the graceful movements associated with freediving. It is also said that fish and other marine life respond much better to free divers as a result, meaning they can get much closer than a scuba diver.

With everything mentioned above, it’s really no big surprise that many yoga retreats, and scuba diving retreats, are incorporating each practice as part of their service. As more people opt for wellness holidays which incorporate unique and relaxing experiences such as scuba diving and yoga, making this a trend that won’t be fading in the near distant future. Be sure to contact your local scuba diving expert on local and international dives and where to experience your next underwater adventure!

Mark Ryans
Mark Ryans
Mark is the owner of Aquability Dive Center - Mordialloc. He has been diving 30 years and been an instructor for 20 years. He is an IANTD Instructor Trainer, KISS Instructor, Standard Dress Instructor. In addition to being an instructor he is President and Founding Member of Southern Ocean Exploration, Vice President - Maritime Archaeology Association of Victoria and Councilor - Australian Institute of Maritime Archaeology.