Scuba diving once had a reputation as an extreme sport, but like most stereotypes, this couldn’t be further from the truth. With more and more people taking to the underwater world to relax, Scuba diving has a lot more in common with yoga and meditation than you might think. In fact, these activities build skills that perfectly complement each other, making you better at both. Yoga combines breathing exercises (pranayama) and physical postures (asanas) to bring about a meditative state that promotes a healthy body and mind.
If you are looking for ways to de-stress and live more in the present moment, scuba diving can provide the tranquillity you have been searching for. On land, it is hard to switch off, but when you dive your worries are left at the surface. And if you’re a hardcore yogi already, you’re sure to fall in love with scuba diving!
Already a diver? Start practising yoga or meditation and you’ll significantly improve your diving experience. You will start to notice your dives will last longer, buoyancy will be better, and you’ll be able to deal with any stressful or challenging situations that occur more easily.
It’s much easier to relax when all you can hear is bubbles.
Most of us are aware of the positive effects of meditation, of taking time out to calm our minds. Those unfamiliar can check this article on Neuropathy Help, it was very illuminating even for a seasoned person such as myself. But we also know that this is much easier said than done. With our often hectic schedules meditation tends to slip to the bottom of our priorities. Even when we do find the time, we struggle as our minds tend to wander and take us off course. This is where scuba diving comes in. Underwater meditation is highly accessible. As scuba divers, we achieve a meditative state of mind almost every time we enter the water, becoming more aware of our bodies as we connect our breathing with our movement.
The sensations of diving can create a deep sense of calmness that is much more difficult to achieve on land. The ocean provides the perfect place to quiet your mind and truly focus on the present moment. Your phone won’t ring underwater and you can’t be distracted by social media. You don’t have to make a mental effort to get away from the real world because physically, you already have! Scuba diving provides your brain with serene alternatives to focus on; from the abundant marine life, to the colourful corals, and array of beautiful blue hues.
Remember to breathe.
The number one rule is scuba diving is ‘never hold your breath’. Like yoga, scuba diving focuses on one key factor: breathing. Continuous and steady breathing is a skill that every yogi and scuba diver needs.
Yoga places emphasis on proper inhalation and exhalation, as breathing is considered the essential connection between body and mind. This is just as important in scuba diving, where we learn to relax through slow and steady breathing. Practiced regularly, yoga promotes deep, slow breathing and teaches you how to calm your mind. These techniques encourage the body to use the full capacity of the lungs and absorb and use oxygen more efficiently.
The impulse to breathe is triggered by the buildup of carbon dioxide rather than the desire for oxygen. If you do not exhale fully, the carbon dioxide can build up in your body. This triggers irregular and shallow breathing which can lead to increased anxiety and panic underwater. So, by exhaling fully, you remove more carbon dioxide which keeps your breathing steady and feeling calm.
By using this breathing pattern, you won’t only improve your buoyancy and air consumption, giving you more quality time underwater, but you’ll also create a more relaxed mind and body. Something we all could use a little bit more of!
Remain calm under pressure.
With all the heavy gear, awkward movements, and new sensations, scuba diving can be a little stressful in the beginning. Even experienced divers can become anxious, particularly in a new environment or under challenging conditions. Yoga teaches you how to remain calm and refocus your mind, helping you to deal with challenging situations more effectively. You become more aware of when you are breathing irregularly or becoming anxious, concentrate on calming yourself by bringing your breath to the centre of your attention again.
Not only will you feel more assured and at ease, your experience will also become more vivid and meaningful. A diver who is relaxed in body, breath, and mind, becomes one with the water. When tension and anxiety is removed, and you can completely indulge in the present moment. The stillness of yoga allows you to let go and just ‘be’ in the water, fully appreciating the moment.
“The best way to observe a fish, is to become a fish.” – Jacques Cousteau.
Strengthen your body as well as your mind.
From carrying equipment to climbing back up on to the boat, or even just swimming at the surface to the entry point, Scuba diving can be a physically demanding activity. Yoga is not just about calming the mind, it’s also about strengthening the body. The physical postures (asanas) practised in Yoga strengthen and stretch muscles that are important in diving. This reduces the risk of injuries and helps prevent overexertion, which can lead to the feeling of breathlessness and increased anxiety when diving. Yoga is a great way to stay in good shape for diving, making the activity less strenuous, and therefore much more safe and enjoyable.
Yoga heightens your awareness of your body, awareness of your place and movement in the water. The way you learn to move during a yoga class, gracefully from one posture to the next, with slow controlled movements, is exactly how you should move underwater when diving. As water is denser than air, you need to make slow and measured movements to reduce the resistance and glide efficiently through the water. Swimming in this way, with minimal effort, also conserves your energy and therefore the air in your tank.
The benefits of underwater meditation stretch far beyond your actual bottom time.
Meditation trains the mind to be calm and completely absorbed in the present moment. When you dive in this heightened state of awareness, you can improve your alertness and composure in stressful situations, as well as expand your sense of wonder, appreciation, and oneness with the ocean.
Regular meditation significantly reduces stress and anxiety, increasing our ability to cope with challenging situations. Which in turn improves our relationships, concentration, sleep, general wellbeing and happiness. If that doesn’t have you reaching for your wetsuit, then other benefits of meditation include; strengthening your immune system, slowing ageing, longer life expectancy as well as a reduced risk of depression and hypertension.
Ready for an underwater meditation session?
The drift diving around the Gili Islands provides a unique way to experience the meditative quality of scuba diving. In drift diving, we rely on the natural currents to gently and effortlessly glide us through the water. Without moving a muscle, we can float through schools of tropical fish, past resting turtles and over mesmerising coral reefs, allowing us to focus on our breathing and enjoying the present moment.
We have many different options for refining your underwater meditation techniques.
You can discover scuba diving in as little as half a day and experience the peace that the underwater world can offer you. As a qualified diver, we have 3 drift dives a day where you can get your dose of marine zen or you can take part in one of our further education courses to train you to become a master of underwater breathing techniques and move effortlessly through the water.
The PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy Speciality or the Peak Performance Buoyancy adventure dive as part of the Advanced course, can teach you the tips and tricks to control your buoyancy through your breath, increases your awareness of your body underwater and help reduce your air consumption.
If you really want to delve deeper into the connection between yoga, meditation and scuba diving we offer the PADI Yoga Diver Distinctive Speciality. This course combines pranayama (breathing practices) and asanas (physical postures) to enable you to discover your own rhythm in the water. Through yoga and meditation sessions on land you learn techniques that you will later practice underwater, focusing on heightening your awareness of your body and breathing. This course will enable you to fully relax and improve not only your air consumption, buoyancy control and movements but also your overall diving experience and wellbeing. We also offer the PADI Distinctive Yoga Speciality Instructor course for Instructors wanting to expand their skill set. Alternatively, you may practise yoga by the pool with best pool filters.
Alternatively, Air Spa, onsite at our dive resort, offers private yoga sessions which can be tailored to support your diving. Our dedicated yoga teacher will create a specific class that concentrates on poses and breathing techniques to enhance your diving experience. This is an ideal way to prepare both you mind and body for your dive.
Whatever option you choose, we hope that you find your peace both above and below the water.