Learning to breathe

You know how to breathe! When we are breathing in scuba diving the key is really to just breathe in and out as normal.  The problem is, that sometimes we forget what normal breathing actually is.  A natural breath is a deep breath, also called “diaphragmatic breathing”.  However, when we are stressed (perhaps from spending too much time on surface worries) we switch to more shallow rapid breaths.

Breathing in scuba diving
Underwater Bubbles with Sunlight. Underwater Background Bubbles

When we dive we want those natural deep breaths.  This type of breathing is great for buoyancy control, trim and air consumption.  Diaphragmatic breathing is one technique that has been shown to reduce anxiety in scuba divers.  Now, before you say “but if I take a deep breath I’ll float to the surface”, remember, a deep breath is not a big breath!  Breathing in scuba diving is supposed to be natural.

Take the free, 1-hour, course to learn about breathing in scuba diving.

Air consumption

We all want to stay down and enjoy the dive by making the most of our gas supply.  There are lots of divers who will tell you that using relaxation and breathing techniques or yoga has helped them to reduce air consumption.  Being relaxed means we use less air.  Taking deep slow breaths allows us to use the air efficiently.  

Strength and flexibility

It is not essential to be strong and flexible, but it can certainly help.  When we want to climb the boat ladder, carry cylinders or haul ourselves out onto a rib.  We can follow sequences with arm strengthening postures like “plank pose”.  Regular stretching to keep limbs supple which can come in handy when you want to contort yourself out of a wetsuit!

Travel-friendly

Yoga is very portable. It is possible to do in a hotel room or on the top deck of a large dive boat.  This means it is easy to keep up a basic practice during scuba trips.  Practicing breathing techniques is even simpler and something you can do in the check-in queue at the airport (while visualising your next dive!).

Yoga and diving

Do be mindful that exertion is not recommended after diving.  Relaxation during the surface interval is recommended for physical and mental health.  Yoga practices and poses that focus on relaxation may be useful.   Advice from DAN (America): Doctors trained in dive medicine recommend avoiding heavy exercise before and after diving. Strength training and exercises that involve significant joint forces should especially be avoided. For more information about timing exercise and diving, see advice on timing of exercise.

As scuba divers we also want to maintain our physical and psychological fitness to dive.  Yoga, mindfulness and breathing techniques are options for doing just that.  Head over to the resources library for more articles on yoga and diving, and do take a look at the flipbook of yoga poses useful in diving

It is also possible to take courses in yoga for divers!