Why Yoga for Freediving?
“A rigorous yoga practice is my personal moving meditation in training for freediving and life.”Cliff Etzel
When I started freediving around 1998, I use to will myself through pure physical exertion thinking that by building only the physical aspect of my body I would become a better freediver.
The top freedivers of that time – Pipin and Umberto Pelizzari who were at the top of the sport pretty much instilled that training paradigm and given there was so little research and information at the time, that’s what I did.
Fast forward to today, and being solidly in my mid 50’s, what I’ve learned is that they were on to something, but I also believe some aspects were missing in developing the mental discipline and clarity of a rigorous yoga practice.
I’m not a yoga instructor (at this time), although I am investigating the possibility of becoming one for helping teach a more holistic approach to freediving. Having said this, another area I’m looking at is working with freedivers over the age of 45 – a time when our bodies are changing as we age. And yet, there are specific physiological advantages to freediving at this time in our lives and utilizing a yoga practice as part of training creates physical and mental advantages. In western society today Yoga is a physical culture and has transformed into an “individualized spirituality of the self” without an adherence to any religion and its related dogmas. My personal belief is one of a secular yoga and meditation practice.
What I’ve personally learned through trial and error, as well as some mentorship from world class freedive trainer and friend Aharon Solomons, is that yoga can sculpt and create the physical aspects we desire for freediving, and also develop the mental discipline and skill of being absolutely present each moment – something that traditional cardio training cannot. Since the type of freediving I ascribe to has more to do with being the mindful mechanism for creating change for our ocean planet as well as being accessible to those who desire a different paradigm in the activity, this philosophy and perspective is probably different to those who are more well known in freediving.
I see it as a holistic approach integrating this secular yoga/meditation and freediving.