Guest Post by Alice Ons
All photos supplied by Alice Ons
When most people think of yoga they automatically think about the physical practice, the poses, also known as the asana, but yoga is actually a lot more than just poses.
Yoga is a combination of physical, mental, and spiritual practices/disciplines which originated in ancient India, the word yoga translates to unity, and when we practice yoga we unite the body, mind and spirit.
You’re probably thinking what any of this has that got to do with scuba diving right? Well it has a lot to do with scuba diving and I’ll explain why.
First let’s start with pranayama, which are the breathing techniques used in yoga. When we scuba dive the most important rule is to never hold your breath, and to always breathe continuously and slowly. Normally this is pretty easy to do, but certain conditions can often add stress when diving, therefore having a proper breathing technique is so important in maintaining a stress free dive. I’m sure you all remember your first dive, it can often be very intimidating and stressful. Apart from being stress free, we also want to conserve our air when diving so we can enjoy longer bottom dive times. Practicing pranayama techniques regularly has shown beneficial impacts upon stress levels, the respiratory system, circulatory system, digestive system and endocrine system!!! So, pranayama is an amazing tool for beginners and advanced divers alike.
Moving onto the physical side of yoga we have the asana (poses). The asana will help you strengthen the body while also working on lengthening and stretching the muscles that are most used while diving. To give you a better idea of how asana can benefit you, I have listed a few poses you can try before you go on your next dive :)
Let’s start with sun salutation A – This is a sequence of poses that is repeated over and over. It’s a great way to introduce yoga into your daily routine.
1. Mountain pose (Tadasana) – A foundation for most poses, a great tool to improve posture.
2. Forward fold (Uttanasana) – Because your head is below your heart in this pose, it allows blood flow to your head giving your cells a rejuvenating boost of oxygen.
3. Half Standing Forward Fold (Ardha Uttanasana) – Stretches and rejuvenates the spine and legs
4. Four-Limbed Staff Pose (chaturanga) – Helps to tone arm and forearm muscles and develops flexibility and strength in the wrists. Also great for toning abdominal muscles.
5. Upward Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana) – An amazing stretch for the chest, shoulders and abdomen and also strengthens the spine, arms, and wrists.
6. Downward dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) an overall stretch for the entire body, this pose stretches your hamstrings, shoulders, calves, hands, and spine while building strength in your arms, shoulders, and legs.
If you’re looking for some extra poses to add into your daily routine, I would also suggest adding in some yoga twists. Twists rotate the spine and stretch the muscles of the back, and they generally involve rotating the shoulders in an opposite direction in relation to the hips. There are many different variations of twists, offering a great deal of benefits that include detoxifying the body, helping reduce back pain, improving digestion, and are great for maintaining normal spinal rotation.
Yoga and scuba diving go hand in hand really. Practising yoga will no doubt improve your dives and make you a lot more confident in the water. If you are a scuba diver and you are reading this, make the move and give yoga a try – or if you’re a regular on the yoga mat, why not try your hand at scuba diving.
Currently based in Byron bay Australia, Alice has been practising yoga for around 7 years.