Freediving doesn’t end when you take off your fins! Incorporate these yoga poses and breathing exercises into your daily routine to increase your freediving abilities and feel strong and flexible in and out of the water!
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1- FISH POSE
This is a great asana to make sure your chest, throat and breathing muscles are flexible enough to support increasing water pressure as you start reaching new depths in your freediving journey! With time, it will also help increase your lung capacity, allowing you to fit more air inside your lungs and more oxygen into your bloodstream!
How to get into the Pose
- Lay down on your back and find deep and slow breathing
- Squeeze your legs together and point your toes
- Slide your arms under your body, palms facing down, thumbs touching and elbows as close to each other as possible
- Press your forearms down to lift the upper arms and the chest up
- Keep reaching the heart up as you release the top of the head on the floor (keeping the upper arms lifted)
- If the top of the head is not touching the floor ; slide you bum higher towards your elbows
- Stay in the pose for 5 to 20 breathing cycles ; make sure you keep the mouth closed ; breathing in and out through your nose
- To come out of the pose press the forearms down ; bring your chin to your chest and slowly release
- Lay on your back for a few breathes ; allow time for your spine to neutralize ; observe the sensations of the release
Counter Pose ; gently roll the head from side to side to release any tension from the neck
2- SEATED TWISE ON BREATH HOLD
Twists in general are amazing postures that will help the body get rid of toxins, the nervous system to find equilibrium and keep the inner organs healthy and happy. Twisting while holding your breath on full lungs will give you the same benefits while also help you increase your lung flexibility as well as your lung capacity. Like all the other breath hold yoga postures, you have to be super careful not to push too far and to stop the movement as soon as you start feeling the stretch into your chest and throat. Over stretching on breath-holds can result in lung squeeze injuries so make sure you go slow and respect your body.
How to get into the pose
- Find a comfortable seated position, you may wanna sit on a pillow or a block to get more comfortable
- Take a deep breath in through your mouth like you learned in the freediver course and hold the breath in
- Very slowly start to walk your hands to the left side of your body gazing over your left shoulder ; eventually your left hand will go behind you and the right hand will be on your left knee
- As soon as you start feeling the stretch in the chest or throat stay where you are, do not go further and hold there for a few seconds
- When you want to breathe, come back to center ; releasing the twist before you release the breath
- Take a couple cycles of breath, observe the sensations of the release and repeat of the right side
3- CATS & COW ON EMPTY LUNGS
Get on your hands and knees and start rolling your spine from the tailbone all the way to the top of your head.Try to synchronise the movement with your breath so that everytime the breath starts, the movement starts and everytime the breath stops the movement stops. Try to slow down the movement as you lengthen the breath and try to move one vertebrae at a time, like a wave from the tailbone all the way up to the crown of the head.
This is already a great exercise to warm up your spine and get the energy flowing through the body! But what we like to do is to practice this after a forceful exhale on “empty lungs” ! Holding the breath out means your breathing muscles and your lower back are going to be more vulnerable so it’s very important you engage your bandhas when practicing empty lungs stretching like this one! A regular practice of Cats and Cows on empty lungs will increase your lung capacity and flexibility reducing the risks of squeezing on your deep dives and making your contractions much more comfortable!
How to get into the pose
- Get into position and exhale as much air as possible out through your mouth. Try bending the elbows as you exhale to encourage more air to be pushed out from the lungs
- Holding the breath out, make sure you engage your Mula Bandha and Uddiyana Bandha (action to lift the pelvic floor up as if you would stop yourself from peeing & your navel up and in towards your spine)
- Keeping the bandhas engaged start to practice cats & cows stretch without breathing, the movement should be slow and fluide like a spinal wave!
- Remember that since you are not breathing, your body is more vulnerable and it is normal not to go as far as if you would be breathing. Keep observing the sensations in your body as you move and make sure you do not push, stopping the movement as soon as you feel pressure in the chest or throat
- Try to do 2 to 5 cycles on every breath hold and repeat 3 to 5 times
4- FROG POSE
This is a very intense pose but also very beneficial! It will rapidly increase the flexibility of your hips, help release any lower back pain and even bring a better range of motion into your ankles to help you kick more efficiently underwater! This pose is deeply connected to your second chakra, which is linked to the element of water and responsible for the fluidity and flexibility in your body, your mind and your life in general ; it also represents your right to pleasure and your ability to go with the flow! On top of all this, this pose will help you train yourself to commit to a goal even when the journey gets uncomfortable. You should never feel any sharp pain (if you do back off), but you will definitely feel discomfort. And this is your opportunity to observe your patterns of reaction when you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, to choose to adopt positive mantras and to learn to go passed the discomfort! Accepting the discomfort and developing the ability to relax into it will be a great tool for your freediving practice!
How to get into the pose
- Come onto your hands and knees and bring your knees as wide as you can. You may use blankets or pillows under your knees and ankles
- Turn your toes out to the side, flex your feet to protect your knees and make sure your ankles are aligned with your knees in a 90 degree angle
- Push your hips and buttocks back towards your feet until you feel the stretch in your hips
- If you feel comfortable, bring your forearms down
- If you want more stretch ; keep pushing your hips back and make sure you have the 90 angle in your legs
- If you feel uncomfortable ; G R E A T ! This is what we are aiming for!
- Breathe in the discomfort, use to breathe to help you relax and feel your body and mind relaxing more and more into the pose. As you accept the discomfort, it will slowly dissolve and you will start to feel more and more comfortable into the pose
- Stay in the pose for at least 2 minutes or 20 cycles of breath
- When coming out of the pose, very slowly bring your hips forward, knees together and find child’s pose for a few breathes. Observe the sensations of the release. Observe any emotions coming up to the surface. Allow yourself to remain a witness to whatever comes up
*You should never feel pain. Discomfort is Ok as it is serving your body. Pain is not. Discomfort is a dull sensation that goes away as you start breathing into it. Pain is a sharp burning sensation that remains even after you release the pose.
Counter Pose ; Take Child’s Pose to release the hips and lower back
5- HEADSTAND WITH NOSE CLIP
Equalizing the ears when upside down is a challenge for a lot of freedivers. A lot of students have not problem equalizing feet first but when they try freediving headfirst the equalization stops working. There is many ways to train in order to solve this problem and one of them is to use a nose clip and practice equalizing while inverted! You definitely want to be comfortable with headstand prior to trying this exercise. We recommend practicing against the wall so you don’t have to worry about balancing yourself (or join one of our upcoming inversion workshops in Dahab or Montreal to learn how to master the upside down world! ).
How to get into the pose
- Use a freediving nose clip to seal your nose which will allow you to equalize without using your hands
- Practice Equalizing in an upright position before getting upside down
- Get into your headstand or handstand against the wall
- Get comfortable into to pose ; take a big deep breath in and start practicing your equalization the way you learned it in the freediver course
- Make sure you are not using your diaphragm ; focus on using your tongue in the the K or T lock position
- Try to do 5 to 10 fast equalizations and then try to hold constant pressure equalization for 3 to 5 seconds
- Remember you might not get this from the first try ; but don’t give up!
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