Suspending your breath for a few seconds invites you to explore much more than the ocean depths. Practiced gently, freediving dissolves bodily and mental tensions … including by diving into your sofa!
“In psychology, we often talk about diving into oneself or going down to the depths of oneself. Between psychoanalysis and self-knowledge in an attempt to gently tame the body and mind, freediving is a path that claims this form of introspection ”, describes Vincent Mathieu, world champion in static apnea, instructor and author of Apnée spirit (Flammarion). Exit the quest for superhuman prowess! Renowned freedivers are now promoting an anti-stress practice, which is also beneficial for managing asthma attacks or re-educating your posture. With success !
“Yoga for freediving” classes (diving clubs, UCPA stays, etc.) are full. “This is explained by the current craze for yoga, the desire to reconnect with one’s body, but also to blend into an environment that is not ours and to find sensations of well-being there” , confirms Jean-Jacques Bureau, certified Cefty yoga teacher and freediving specialist 1 .
During an apnea, the body saves its oxygen reserve and the blood flows first and foremost to the vital organs: lungs, heart and brain. Well done, this activity does not damage neurons, according to a study conducted in 2016 at the University of Liège by neurologist Steven Laureys. The brain activity of champion Guillaume Néry – while he held his breath out of the water for six and a half minutes in a functional MRI machine, and for seven and fifteen minutes under an electroencephalography helmet – even showed similarities with that observed scientifically in Matthieu Ricard, a Buddhist monk, during a deep meditation. The areas controlling movement were less active, those related to thoughts and self-awareness were more active. Hence the feeling of plenitude witnessed by the most seasoned. But we can reach a state of appeasement more modestly. Knowingly holding your breath forces you to focus your attention on your breathing: the basics of meditation.
Rules of caution
“Anyone can go freediving,” says Arthur Guérin-Boëri, dynamic freediving champion, a discipline consisting of covering the greatest possible distance in immersion, in Le Bien-être sous l’eau (Genesis edition). Everyone, yes … but never alone and not just any old way, remember the experienced freedivers. Do not challenge yourself this summer, you risk fainting! Same warning from the pranayama teachers ,yoga focused on breath control. If Jean-Jacques Bureau agrees to give us some basic exercises out of the water (box opposite), it is by appealing to our sense of measure: “Be patient and don’t skip the steps. Breathing should be smooth and regular like a wave. If you don’t breathe in calmly after air retention, reduce the pace and duration of your session, ”he says. And rest from the slightest dizziness. Apnea training systematically includes relaxation, to better manage your emotions, and body flexibility, to facilitate air circulation. Target yoga postures that promote the opening of the shoulders, shoulder blades and sternum (cobra, fish, etc.), that of the pelvis and hips (shoemaker), and back flexibility (grasshopper, plow, bridge, twists, etc.).
1. For more information: yogapnee.com.
An inner journey
Apnea is a way to explore in depth the act of breathing and to hold your breath to offer yourself a bubble of relaxation. Vincent Mathieu also recommends exercises including visualizations to, for example, imagine yourself floating on the surface of the water from your sofa: your legs and arms slightly apart, “you gradually feel yourself rocked by the movement. natural swell. It helps you relax. Close your eyes. Breathe calmly. Concentrate on the path of the air coming in, cool and dry, through your nostrils and out, hot and humid, through your mouth, he guides. When you feel peaceful and available, take a deep breath, then hold it. Listen, watch what’s going on inside you ”. You can also become aware of certain automatisms, like holding your breath after taking a sip of tea. According to Jean-Jacques Bureau, “that maybe a way to savor it”. Just as we keep a good smell to let it infuse in oneself and soak up… vital energy!
Practice in stages
While exercising, observe the following guidelines. Breathe through your nose with your mouth closed. Inhale while inflating the abdomen and then raising the air to fill the entire rib cage (including the sides). Breathe out slowly, drawing the abdomen as far as possible and keeping the rib cage open. Always keep the spine stretched and the shoulders relaxed. And relax for at least ten minutes after each breathing session.
1. “ujjayi” breathing
Inhale (five to ten seconds, this should remain comfortable) and exhale at the same tempo. Practice this breathing by narrowing the passage of air at the back of the throat, causing a soft sound. Do it for five minutes or more every day, until it becomes fluid.
2. “Viloma” breathing
It has six stages, but the first two are enough to become aware of its air flow and soften the diaphragm. Never practice it before you have performed some asanas and ujjayi . Then proceed : Viloma 1 with inspiration by leveling off over sixteen seconds: inhale for two seconds while inflating the abdomen, hold the air for two seconds. Inhale again for two seconds and hold for two seconds. Then breathe in for two more seconds at the floating ribs, hold air for two seconds, breathe in two seconds at the same place, hold air for two seconds. Finally, exhale for ten seconds.
Viloma 2,conversely, breaks down the exhalation over sixteen seconds: inhale for ten seconds, hold the air for barely two seconds. Then, four times in a row, exhale for two seconds and hold the air for two seconds.