Breathing techniques are one of the core skills we teach during a RAID Freediving Course. We focus on learning breathing techniques for before and after the dive. So why is it so important?
Why Learning Breathing Techniques For Freediving Is So Important
Breathing comes naturally to us all, yet it is quite a complicated process and one that many of us are actually doing incorrectly (or inefficiently). Correctly breathing is critical for both a pleasurable comfortable dive, but above all, safety during your dive.
Learning breathing techniques has helped enormously and I was excited to learn about the risks of hyperventilation. Learning about recovery breathing has been really helpful as well. David Bennett
It is important that you are learning correct breathing techniques as this will help you avoid hyperventilating or even worse, experiencing a blackout during your course or future freediving adventures.
But You Hold Your Breath For Freediving!
Yes, that is correct, but you can only safely breath hold if you have practiced safe pre-dive breathing exercises and follow your dive with safe recovery breaths. It will also help you breath hold for longer therefore safely extending the length of your dives.
The breathing techniques have helped me realise that I can hold my breath longer than I think I can. Jude Adams
Learning Breathing Techniques: Pre-Dive
In the freediving world, the correct term for the preparation before a dive is called the ‘breathe up’ – which is a passive process – even though it doesn’t sound like it! You actually need to be as relaxed as possible without hyperventilating (almost how you feel in bed, just before falling asleep).
When you’re learning breathing techniques on your freediving course you will discover that the position you adopt when breathing before diving will influence how much oxygen you have in your system for the dive. For example, breathing up while lying flat on your front or back ensures requires the minimum effort and should be easier to take a full breath. Some freedivers are more comfortable preparing in an upright position in water – while this is still possible, it can be more difficult. You will soon discover which is more efficient for you.
On average you should spend around two minutes at the line before you dive to reduce the risk of hyperventilation. Your last breath should be a complete exhalation to empty your lungs of air, and then a complete inhalation to fill them with fresh air. The last breath should be taken in three calm and distinct stages:
- Expand the stomach, filling the lower region of your lungs completely. Your rib cage and chest shouldn’t move
- Expand your rib cage and breathe into the central region of your lungs
- Open your mouth wide (unless breathing through a snorkel) and fill the very upper region of your lungs, the area of your collarbone and throat. You can also raise your head to try to get more air in
Learning Breathing Techniques: Post-Dive
When you return to the surface after your dive, you need practice ‘recovery breathing’. Learning breathing techniques such as recovery breathing during your freediving course is very important as this helps re-oxygenate your body as quickly and safely as possible.
A lot of the breathing techniques we were taught on the course I just had no idea of and are really helpful to know. The recovery breathing is really helpful and helps you calm down really fast once you come out of the water. It was amazing. Jennilee Foo Kune
You should not exhale any air until you have reached the surface. This is because exhaling on the way up deprives your body of oxygen and can make you more negatively buoyant.
You should perform recovery breaths after every dive, no matter how shallow or deep, short or long and should be monitored by your buddy for at least 30 seconds.
How Learning Breathing Techniques Correctly Will Help Prevent Hyperventilating and Black Outs
Hyperventilation is, in short, over-breathing. This means breathing more than the body needs at any given time and is something we teach our students about. During our course, students learn to how to identify the signs and symptoms of hyperventilation and how to rescue and treat a person who has been hyperventilating and suffered a black out.
Learning breathing techniques helped me go under for longer and get more air in my lungs so that you have more oxygen to use. I didn’t know anything about hyperventilation before and that was really useful and made sense. Charlie Orman
Over-breathing reduces the level of carbon dioxide in the blood, so, if someone over-breathes before a dive, during the dive they will have lower levels of carbon dioxide in their blood, making the dive feel easier. However, hyperventilating is dangerous for freedivers because it can remove the primary urge to breathe, risking a black out even before the diver has left the surface.
It raises the heart rate meaning the body uses oxygen more quickly and can cause the Bohr effect where oxygen bonds more strongly to haemoglobin in the blood making it more difficult for the body to use oxygen.
The Added Benefits of Learning Breathing Techniques
Learning to breathe correctly and efficiently will not only improve your freediving it will help you in other sports too. Many professional divers, swimmers and athletes have improved their performance simply by learning breathing techniques correctly with us.
But sport is not the only area where breathing techniques have helped students. We have many students coming to us with mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, stress etc who discover that the combined effect of pushing limits in a safe environment coupled with breathing techniques they can take away and practice has transformed how they face daily challenges they are presented with.
In addition to this we have had students with medical conditions such as asthma who find that learning breathing techniques has contributed to better overall management of their condition.
Our breathing exercises are designed to help you relax as much as possible before, during and after the dive, but you take those skills home with you too!
If you are interested in learning breathing techniques, check out our free-access yoga videos here, or check out our yoga nidra downloads here. If you are not sure what yoga nidra is, or how it can help with your diving or general relaxation, you can read all about it here.
Check Out Our Latest Students
Class 17th – 18th August 2019
RAID Freediver Course
Date: 17 – 18 August 2019
Location: Vobster Inland Dive Centre
Water temperature: 20.4 degrees
Weather: Sunny with some rain, 20 degrees
Visibility: Good (12m)
Instructors: Emma, Pash, Tom and Wayne
Students: Jennilee, Kit, Charlie, Matt, David, Jude and Carly (joined by returning students Rob, Rob and Kathyrn).
I chose to do a freediving course because I have always liked doing things in the water, and you are more in the water if you are freediving! I have never really liked the idea of all the equipment with diving so this is a nice way of being in the water without having to have loads of stuff with you. I chose Go Freediving because from the information on the website it seemed like they knew what they were talking about.
Doing this course I have discovered how to freedive, the safety and techniques. I have discovered that it is really beautiful and peaceful under the water. What I enjoyed most was that the course was serious enough to be reassuring that everything would be ok, but also quirky and fun and everyone has been having a really good time. A good mixture of fun and peacefulness under the water that I wanted.
Learning breathing techniques helped me go under for longer and get more air in my lungs so that you have more oxygen to use. I didn’t know anything about hyperventilation before and that was really useful and made sense. Doing the breathing techniques beforehand really helped me to relax. I have never thought of filling my lungs up in 3 different stages before, and learning the recovery breaths made me feel more like you doing something active.
The benefits are that once you have learned to freedive you have a skill for life, you can join a club, freedive on holidays and I really wanted to do it to learn to relax so you can use it in other areas of life, and it was really fun.
I would recommend the course because I felt safe the whole time, it was well organised and I really enjoyed it.
For me, doing this course was an opportunity to do something with my friend, and it is always nice to do something with friends, and we both thought it would be amazing to dive without all the gear. I have always enjoyed scuba diving so it was another way to experience life underwater potentially without any gear and I have always been drawn to underwater activities. I chose Go Freediving because we found them on Much Better Adventures and the location is what did it for me. Being in close proximity to London and the fact that the course was structured perfectly to compliment a short weekend getaway was great. Go Freediving had pretty good credentials so we are sure we made the right choice.
Doing the course I have discovered that it is harder than it looks and I have done things that I honestly didn’t think I would be able to do. The best part of the weekend were the people and how we have been taught. There was a strong focus on mastering skills and not just ticking off boxes, and each student got to progress at their own pace and the advice received was tailored to each one’s strengths and weaknesses.
Learning the breathing techniques has been a great help and helped me to relax and be more aware of my own breathing and I think the breathing techniques I have learned will be really useful and transferable as well for my own scuba adventures. I have just found them useful for daily life in general really and for relaxing.
The benefits of learning to freedive are developing a new technical ability which I think is always of value in your own life and allows you to push you out of your comfort zone. It helps you learn to relax, the biggest thing is not to over think it but just do it. I think Go Freediving was really good at teaching skills in an easy to understand way. I will definitely be coming back to take it to the next level.
I would definitely recommend this course because I always think there are benefits of going out of your comfort zone and I know the skills I have learned here will help so many people that I know. It is a great way to take a weekend away from the hustle and bustle and spend some time in the water.
I wanted to learn to freedive because I go back home to Mauritius alot and I have seen people freedive and I really wanted to be able to do that. Kit and I always like to learn to do new things and we found this course on Much Better Adventures and I just knew I wanted to do it. The course description looked really organised and professional and had really good reviews.
Doing the course I have discovered that it is not as easy as I thought it would be. There are a lot of techniques and it is a proper discipline. I really liked that we had to do all the reading and prepping online as it helped me prepare for the weekend and we focussed enough time on theory. I really liked coming here to Vobster instead of doing it in a pool.
A lot of the breathing techniques we were taught on the course I just had no idea of and are really helpful to know. The recovery breathing is really helpful and helps you calm down really fast once you come out of the water. It was amazing.
Learning to freedive in general I think just gives you more freedom to enjoy the ocean. When diving you will just get to see things that you wouldn’t normally get to see, and you can swim with dolphins and animals which is something I love. The benefits of doing it with Go Freediving was that I felt like I was in really good and safe hands.
I would definitely recommend this course because it is really safe and enjoyable.
Jennilee Foo Kune
It has been in the back of my mind that I wanted to learn to freedive, since I retired it’s now bucket list time. I do a lot of camping in Pembrokeshire and have seen so many people spearfishing there and I want to have a go at it. Speaking to them it was clear that learning to freedive was the sensible route to learn to spearfish. I found Go Freediving online and it was convenient and on my doorstep.
I have discovered that I am really relaxed at depth, which is one thing I was worried about before coming on the course. I have really enjoyed the top notch quality of the instruction and the instructors and students are really nice.
Learning breathing techniques has helped enormously and I was excited to learn about the risks of hyperventilation. Learning about recovery breathing has been really helpful as well.
The benefits of learning to freedive are discovering self awareness in terms of physiology, it opens more doors to seeing more of the environment and it is very social. I would recommend this course for its quality and professionalism.
I read about freediving in the news and I read about this course online so I decided to book on it. Doing the course I have discovered that the duck dive is really hard. I have really enjoyed the company and friendliness on the course. It hasn’t been too formal but has been very educational.
Learning the breathing techniques – in particular recovery breathing – has helped a lot as it helps you recover a lot quicker after the dive. Once you learned to freedive you will not scuba dive and once you have qualified it is cheap to do as you don’t have much kit.
I would recommend this course because I have done it and I enjoyed it.
I have always loved the ocean and heard about freediving about three years ago and read about it on social media. I have tried scuba diving and I hated not feeling in control and having to rely on something else. I also like challenging myself and find it really satisfying when I do it. I chose Go Freediving because of the location and my dad has heard about Go Freediving and referred me to them.
I have discovered that relaxation is important and it is very mental. I enjoyed starting in the pool and the group of people are really nice, I just felt really relaxed which took me by surprise.
The breathing techniques have changed the way I think of breathing and will help me to relax. I really liked that there was no pressure to go beyond my limits and you get to take it at your own pace. It is interesting to learn about your body and what it can do, it helps you appreciate the strength of your own body.
I would recommend this course because the location and the quarry are beautiful and the people are really nice and friendly.
I love being underwater, as a child I was always at the bottom of the pool trying to fish everything out. I tried scuba diving and I just couldn’t deal with all the stuff and the noise, and I have watched The Big Blue and I thought I would like to try freediving. I saw posters at Vobster for the Go Freediving course and I really wanted to do the course at Vobster.
I have discovered that I can do it and it comes more naturally to me than scuba diving. The thing I enjoyed most was that we were not under any pressure to do anything, we are all at different levels in the group and we could progress at our own pace.
The breathing techniques have helped me realise that I can hold my breath longer than I think I can. Learning to freedive with Go Freediving, you are under no pressure and learning to freedive you get to go underwater and you are in control of what you do.
I would recommend the course because there is no pressure, everyone is lovely and it is just a great experience.
Learning Breathing Techniques with Go Freediving
Go Freediving is the longest established, most experienced and friendliest freediving course provider in the UK, led by world class freediving instructor trainer Emma Farrell, and her team of personally trained instructors. No other course provider has such a good instructor to student ratio, safety record and personal touch which ensures you are learning your freediving techniques from the best!
If you’re a beginner dipping your toes into the world of freediving, a seasoned pro looking to turn professional, or simply a freediver of any level who wants the best freediving holiday in the world, we’re here for you!
Also check out our online guide, The Beginners Guide to Freediving by clicking here!
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