Can you tell this photo was taken by someone who used to be scared of the water? Probably not.
Prior to every dive I was full of anxiety and frozen with fear the moment I jumped into the sea. After one dive in the beautiful waters of the Maldives others were talking excitedly about the sharks they had seen – and I had been so scared of the current that I spent most of the time hooked facing into the reef whilst the sharks swam in the open water behind me!
So, how did I start to conquer that fear? Simple – by connecting to the breath. It was with yogic breathing techniques taught to me by a patient dive instructor. He explained that breathing underwater should be as natural and effortless as on land. He made me realise I was hyperventilating, so my initial anxiety became worse and I was unable to think straight – definitely a recipe for a dive accident.
My interest in yoga was re-ignited so back on dry land I found an excellent yoga teacher and continued my practice. On my next trip I realised my physical strength had improved with the yoga, that I could use the power of my breath to control the nerves and that I had air in my tank at the end of each dive!
It took a good few years before I became comfortable, calm and focused enough that some dives like the one in which this image was taken feel like a meditation. Wherever I travel my mat goes with me.
In this time of COVID 19, both as a yoga teacher and a diver much of what I practice and teach is driven by a wish to keep the lymphatic and immune system as strong as possible and keep the muscles around the ribcage strong and flexible. It’s also about developing/maintaining coping strategies for remaining mentally as well as physically well.
Who knows when we’ll be able to travel, but meanwhile the yoga is a constant that should keep me fit to dive.