Diving isn’t necessarily an easy pursuit—if you’re a diver, you probably know what I’m talking about. As a physically demanding activity, it calls for a high level of physical fitness, mental clarity, and emotional resilience, regardless of whether you’re scuba or free-diving. And I’m here to tell you, whether you’re a recreational diver or aiming to go deeper with your diving, incorporating yoga into your routine is one of the best and most impactful things you can do to enhance your diving experience.

I’m a joyful living coach, yoga teacher, and mindfulness guide, and I’ve teamed up with Hayley Adlam, Miss Scuba International 2024, to unpack the benefits, tricks and tips yoga can offer divers. This is a practice Hayley’s been a fan of for years, helping her dive longer, stronger, and more confidently than ever before. So let’s dive into (sorry) how to find even more joy from your next dive (ready to, ahem, dive in? Check out Yoga For Divers – a 7-Day Program, to get started).

The physical benefits of yoga for divers

1. Enhanced flexibility and mobility

Diving often requires moving through tight spaces, maintaining fluid movements, and let’s face it, climbing into a free-diving wetsuit can be a workout in itself. Yoga practices, particularly poses like cat-cow, downward dog, and pigeon pose, increase your level of flexibility and range of motion in your hips, shoulders, and spine. This flexibility not only makes diving more comfortable but also reduces the risk of muscle strains and injuries.

Practical Tip:

  • Cat-cow: This dynamic movement between two poses helps to increase the flexibility of the spine. Start on your hands and knees, inhale as you arch your back (cow pose), and exhale as you round your spine (Cat Pose). Repeat for 5-10 breaths.

2. Improved strength and endurance

Holding and moving through yoga poses builds strength in your core, legs, and upper body. As divers, having a strong core is essential for stabilising in water and managing the weight of your gear. Strength-building poses like plank, warrior sequences, and boat pose improve muscle tone and endurance, allowing you to dive with more control and confidence.

Practical Tip:

  • Plank pose: This pose strengthens your core, shoulders, and arms. Hold a plank position with your body in a straight line from head to heels—see if you can feel your heels pressing back into an imaginary wall, whilst the crown of your head presses forward in the same way. Hold here for 30-60 seconds, repeating 2-3 times.

3. Better breathing

I hammer on about breathing all the time, mainly because it’s one of the most effective nervous-system practices you can do, diver or not. Want to conserve air and extend your dive time? It’s all about breath. Pranayama, the practice of breath control in yoga, teaches us how to take deep, controlled breaths. Techniques such as ujjayi breath (ocean breath, or Darth Vader breath) help to regulate breathing patterns, to find calm, and to reduce anxiety underwater. This practice will not only improve your diving performance, but also supports overall respiratory health.

Practical Tip:

  • Ujjayi breath (ccean breath): Inhale deeply through your nose, constricting the back of your throat slightly to create a soft hissing sound. Exhale through your nose, maintaining the constriction. Imagine you’re breathing out, trying to fog up a mirror, and just keep that same throat position for the inhale and exhale with your mouth closed. Practice this breath for 5 minutes daily to improve your breathing efficiency.

The mental benefits of yoga for divers

1. Stress reduction and relaxation

Diving can sometimes be stressful, especially in challenging conditions. Yoga encourages us to relax, it reduces stress, anxiety, and shifts our nervous system back to baseline (something you need more than you know). Poses like savasana (corpse pose), guided meditations, and yoga nidra (or NSDR) calm the nervous system, lower cortisol levels, and give you a sense of peace, calm, and wellbeing. Want to maintain composure during challenging dives? This is how you do it.

Practical Tip:

  • Savasana (corpse pose): Lie flat on your back with your arms and legs comfortably spread. Close your eyes and focus on your breath, allowing your body to relax completely. Stay in this pose for 5-10 minutes. This is also the basis for any yoga nidra practice, where you’ll be guided through a series of relaxation techniques to help you shift states.

2. Heightened focus and concentration

Underwater navigation and monitoring your equipment underwater requires sharp focus and attention to detail. Yoga improves mental clarity and concentration through mindful practices and breath awareness. Techniques used in meditation improve your ability to stay present and focused, which will lead to safer and more enjoyable dives. This is basic mental-mastery, and meditation’s the best way to find it.

Practical Tip:

  • Chi ball meditation: Sit comfortably with your spine long, and close your eyes. Focus on your breathing, and bring your palms to face each other. Begin to synchronise breathing with movement in your hands—bringing them wider with inhales, and back toward each other with exhales. This practice enhances concentration and mental clarity.

3. Emotional resilience and mindfulness

Yoga, meditation, and breath practices foster mindfulness, helping you stay present and connected with your body and surroundings. This mindfulness translates to diving, where being aware of your sensations, thoughts, and environment is crucial. Developing emotional resilience in these ways help you manage any unexpected challenges or anxieties that might come up during a dive.

Practical Tip:

  • Mindfulness meditation: Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and focus on your breath. Observe each inhale and exhale without judgment. Practice this for 10 minutes daily to cultivate mindfulness and emotional resilience.

Practical tips for integrating yoga into your diving routine

1. Start gently

If you’re new to yoga or returning after a break, begin with gentle, restorative practices that focus on stretching and relaxation. Poses like child’s pose, cat-cow, and legs-up-the-wall are excellent for releasing tension and helping you relax. Stuck for practices? Come join Yoga For Divers – A 7-Day Program to get started.

2. Incorporate breathwork

Dedicate a few minutes each day to practice pranayama. Begin with simple techniques like diaphragmatic breathing and progress to more advanced practices like alternate nostril breathing (nadi shodhana). This will help you build a strong foundation for controlled breathing underwater.

3. Focus on core strength

Integrating core-strengthening poses into your yoga routine can be one of the best things to get stronger in your diving practice. Poses such as boat, plank, bridge, and even standing poses work on core stability, essential for maintaining control while diving.

4. Practice mindfulness meditation and yoga nidra

Set aside time for mindfulness meditation and yoga nidra every day if you can, to help you find calm and focus. This will help you stay centred, present, focused, and energised during your dives. Find practices like these inside Yoga For Divers and The Yoga Revolution membership.

The takeaway

Yoga offers an amazing toolkit to help you improve your dives and make them more enjoyable. Practice often, and you’ll improve your physical fitness, mental clarity, and emotional wellbeing. Like Hayley and her hectic diving schedule with Miss Scuba International, you’ll be able to dive deeper, stay calmer, and enjoy the underwater world with more ease and confidence. This isn’t just another practice to add to your to-do list, this is about finding balance and joy every day, whether you’re above or below the water.

Ready to start your mission to better dives? My Yoga For Divers program is a 7-day intensive, designed to give you all the benefits I’ve mentioned (and a few more). I created this alongside Hayley Adlam and it’s the perfect toolkit for your best dives yet. Practice this for 4 weeks, and your diving will be revolutionised. Learn more and get started for free here.

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Chloe - TYR Founder & Joyful Living Coach

POSTED: 28/05/2024

Chloe is a yoga teacher, mindfulness guide, and joyful living coach, and she thinks the meaning of life is probably to be as happy as possible.

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