No need to worry – this post is not about to walk you through the ABCs of free diving. Instead, I would like to share a meditation that we usually practice before training commences. It is effective in calming the mind and, as the face is fully submerged during the exercise, helps in reacquainting you with the water. There are no breath holds involved, so it is safe and easy to practice on your own. The end-result is a moment of relaxation and mindfulness in a state of weightlessness, and I cannot recommend it enough.
Here’s what you will need to get started:
Access to a pool – Early morning is best so that you can have it to yourself.
A snorkel – You will be using this to breathe while fully submerged. No need for the mask, though. You want your entire face to be in contact with the water.
A nose clip – If you are not comfortable with water filling your nostrils, go ahead and use a nose clip.
Rash guard – You will be in the water for a while, so it’s a good idea to wear a rash guard or wet suit to avoid getting distracted by the cold as you go along.
In the pool, find a spot where your feet can still comfortably find the bottom and stay close to the edge. Wear the snorkel, nose clip and start with a few cycles of breathing on the surface to get accustomed with breathing through your mouth. For this practice, you want to have a fairly short inhalation, a slight pause, and an exhalation that is twice or thrice as long as the inhalation. To start, I recommend going ahead with 4 counts on the inhalations and 8 on the exhalations, but feel free to expand that to 4:12 if that feels good for you.
Once you get comfortable, it’s time to close your eyes and immerse your face in the water. I find that it helps to find some grounding before letting go completely, so go ahead and place both of your palms on the edge of the pool first. With this point of contact in place, try to relax the rest of your body by allowing the feet to float away from the bottom of the pool. You will find that the rest of the body naturally finds buoyancy near the surface. Keep breathing and enjoy how every inhale pushes your body upwards, perhaps so much so that you feel the morning sun shining against your back, while every exhale sees you sinking slightly.
If you are ready to go for the full experience, let go of the edge of the pool and let your arms hang by your side, completely relaxed and without any tension. Every inhalation fills your lungs and brings lightness, while every exhalation empties them and provides grounding. There is something deeply therapeutic about being able to experience each breath so intimately and vividly through the use of your own body. Continue with this practice for a total of 20 minutes, and you will be starting your day on a wonderfully positive note.
Ailin (200h YTT April – June 2017)