Free diving is a sport that requires strong lungs and a calm mind. If you’re prone to anxiety, it’s not the best idea for you. However, if you’re in relatively good health and want to try freediving as an alternative to scuba diving or snorkeling, here are some free diving breathing techniques:
1. Get in a good mindset
- Before you go diving, try to get yourself in a good mindset. This can be as simple as focusing on what you are doing and how good it will feel when you finally reach the bottom of the water. Try to clear your mind of distractions and focus only on what’s happening at that moment. Don’t let anything else bother you or take away from this experience—this is just for fun after all!
- When diving, try not to think about what could go wrong but rather focus on what is actually happening instead. Your fears can become reality if they consume too much space in your head; try not to let them take over everything else!
2. Minimize the time you spend on the surface
However, a few simple changes in your surface protocol will drastically reduce the amount of time you spend on the surface.
- Don’t spend more than a few seconds equalizing. Equalize several times, but stay in the water for no more than 3 minutes at a time (total), even if you’re still having difficulty equalizing. If after 3 minutes it’s not resolved, ascend and use an ear syringe or inverted syringe to clear your ears before attempting another dive.
- Don’t spend more than a few seconds resting at 10 feet before descending again. Stay down no longer than 20-30 seconds before returning to 10 feet above water level (or whatever depth is most comfortable for you).
3. Relax your body
You need to be relaxed. If you feel tense, it will be difficult to control your breathing and focus on holding your breath.
It’s important to remember that the goal is not how deep or long you can go. The goal is simply to relax and enjoy being underwater without worrying about anything else but breathing and staying relaxed.
You shouldn’t worry about the time, depth or dive buddy up top. You should just focus on relaxing and breathing slowly through your nose while keeping your face as relaxed as possible (but not so much that water enters).
4. Stay calm as you descend
- When you are deep underwater, it is important to stay calm and relaxed. If you begin breathing heavily or holding your breath, you will use up oxygen faster than normal. This can lead to an early ascent or even drowning if it continues for too long!
- You should also try to keep the same breathing rate as when you were on land by inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth in a steady rhythm.
5. Equalize as you descend
Equalizing is a skill that takes practice, but it’s worth the effort to learn. When you equalize in the water, you are ensuring that your middle ear pressure stays at the same level as your surrounding environment (the pressure of air). This prevents two potential injuries: eardrum rupture and barotrauma.
Eardrum rupture occurs when there is too much pressure on your eardrum. If this happens while underwater and you don’t equalize, severe pain or even bleeding may result.
Barotrauma can occur when there is too much pressure on a body part such as an ear drum or sinus cavity; this can cause pain and injury if not corrected quickly.
6. Equalizing Tips and Tricks
Equalizing is important because it allows you to dive deeper and stay down longer. It can be difficult, however, especially if you have an ear condition such as otitis media or a perforation in the eardrum. There are many different techniques to equalize including:
- Using a snorkel or nose clip
- Breathing through one nostril at a time
- Valsalva maneuver (exhaling against closed glottis)
7. Equalize aggressively
When ascending, equalize as often as you can. This is especially important when ascending from deep dives, which tend to cause more ear barotrauma than shallower ones.
If your eardrums begin to hurt from the pressure change, do not wait until pain becomes unbearable or a pop is heard—it’s often too late by then. Equalize aggressively every time you feel your ears popping, even if the pop hasn’t yet occurred (or even if you aren’t sure whether there were two pops).
8. Clench your jaw tightly and then gently blow into it while pinching your nose
While descending, equalize your ears as you feel like you need to. Equalizing too often can be a sign of an ear infection, so it’s important not to force the process and take your time if necessary. When equalizing, don’t hold your breath or blow too forcefully at first; this could cause an injury and make the problem worse. It’s also important not to try ton equalize on the surface because this can lead to serious injury if there is any pressure difference between the outside environment and inside your body (such as when breathing).
9. Blow bubbles until your ears pop open
Only after you have equalized your ears should you resume the descent. If this doesn’t work, stop descending and ascend slowly. If it still doesn’t work, ascend to the surface and try again when you’re at a shallower depth.
As long as they don’t get in the way of an airway emergency (or another important dive task), bubbles are actually helpful to see how well you are equalizing your ears. Watch them carefully and make sure they aren’t blocking the view out of one or both of your eyes—this is called being “frosted” by bubbles because it looks like frost on a windowpane in wintertime!
10. Stop! Don’t force it!
- Don’t force it. If you feel like you’re about to pass out, stop for a moment and breathe normally.
- You don’t have to hold your breath at all when freediving. In fact, it’s best not to!
- The key is learning how not to panic while holding your breath. It’s okay if there are moments where you can’t breathe because of increased water pressure or other factors—just relax and try again once the situation resolves itself.
11. Getting in the right frame of mind makes all the difference!
- Don’t worry about the outcome, just focus on the process
- Don’t worry about what other people are doing
- Don’t worry about whether you will succeed or fail
- Don’t worry about how much time you have left
The most important thing to remember when you’re diving is to stay calm and relaxed. You can practice these techniques every day in the pool, but before you go out into open water, make sure to get your gear checked by a professional so that you can safely enjoy this amazing activity!