WANT TO DIVE BETTER? START DOING YOGA – BENEFITS OF YOGA FOR DIVERS
YOGA CAN IMPROVE BREATHING, STRENGTH, AND YOUR DIVING ABILITY.
Yoga studios are as commonplace as commercial gyms. Although it’s been practiced for thousands of years, only recently has science revealed the benefits of yoga. Let’s take a look at how yoga can improve your health, fitness level, and diving ability.
Benefits of Yoga
Breath Control: Did you know there’s a proper way to breathe? We often don’t think much about how we breathe, but many of us breathe from our chests, not our stomachs. This limits how much oxygen we are getting. It also increases feelings of anxiety when we get into stressful situations.
As a beginner to diving, it’s natural to have anxiety. Your thoughts might be so focused on unrealistic scenarios or trying to remember everything you learned in class that you forget one of the most important techniques in diving: proper breathing.
Even if you’re an experienced diver, if something were to go wrong, this stressful situation could also increase your anxiety, interfere with your breathing, and make you forget about the Stop, Think, and Act response you learned in class.
Yoga can help you to train yourself to breathe properly while alleviating stress and anxiety. As we’ll see below, for divers, this is immensely important.
Flexibility: Yoga is famously associated with increased flexibility and mobility. Studies have demonstrated time and time again how both the young and the old can benefit from yoga. In one study, college students increased their flexibility and overall balance.
In a study focused on the elderly, subjects were divided into three groups: yoga, calisthenics (bodyweight training), and control (didn’t do anything). At the conclusion of one year, the yoga group surpassed the other two in regards to flexibility and mobility. These results have huge implications on maintaining an independent lifestyle well into old age.
Strength: Yoga is a form of bodyweight-based workout that has been shown to improve strength levels. In one study, male and female subjects were assigned to only do sun salutations – one of the most basic movements in yoga. After three months, researchers discovered that all subjects had increased levels of strength as well as more lean muscle and less body fat.
Cardiovascular Health: Yoga is an effective way to improve your cardiovascular health, and it’s especially good for your heart. As a bodyweight workout, yoga can help to burn fat and build lean muscle.
As a cardiovascular workout, yoga has been shown to lower cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. As we’ll see next, yoga can also decrease stress, one of the biggest contributors to heart disease.
Mental Health: Yoga is as good for the mind as it is the body. Studies show that consistent yoga practice significantly decreases stress and anxiety levels. As mentioned above, less stress is good for the heart, reducing your risk for a stroke or heart attack.
Yoga can be a healthy alternative to anxiety medication as one study found that people who practice yoga just twice a week reported a dramatic reduction in perceived anxiety.
How Yoga Can Help Divers
Improved Breathing: You’ll often hear yoga teachers referring to the breath or calling your attention back to the breath during your yoga workout. This focus on breathing isn’t just important for staying in the present moment; it’s also been shown to increase lung capacity and function. As a diver, this means you’ll be able to use the same tank of air for a longer period of time.
Performance: Just like any sport, it’s important to exercise and train to increase your performance. Yoga can help to increase strength and muscle while reducing fat. For divers, this can help with endurance during swimming, and lifting objects from the water such as your air tank. Less body fat will be beneficial for your cardiovascular health, sparing your heart the strain during a dive.
Clarity of Mind: As you move from posture to posture, there is an intense focus on the actions you’re performing in that moment. Yoga, like meditation, can help you to be with the situation at hand, not thinking about the past or trying to predict the future. This is going to be essential should something go wrong while diving. Panic only leads to trouble and potential disaster. Yoga can train you to remain calm, assess what went wrong, and what needs to be done to correct.
How Often Should You Do Yoga?
For beginners, I’d recommend doing yoga three times a week with a rest day in between each session. If you currently have a workout program, you can supplement yoga during your rest and cardio days.
For those that have some experience with yoga, you can do it several times per week, but be sure to give yourself at least one rest day.
Do You Practice Yoga?
What benefits have you noticed? Has it improved your strength and flexibility? Do you find yourself to be more aware from day to day? If you’re a diver, has yoga helped with your breathing during a dive? Let us know in the comments below.