Tag Archives: sara campbell

Women in freediving

Is freediving an equal opportunity sport? Is participation different for men and women? What about the way freediving women are perceived on social media, or how they are represented?

We wondered about these questions, but cannot answer them from our own experience. Hence, we decided to ask five women in freediving: Jeanine Grasmeijer, Valentine Thomas, Sara Campbell, Tanya Streeter, and Radziah Radzi.

This read will take you about 10 – 15 minutes.

First things first: introductions

Valentine Thomas
Valentine Thomas is a spearfisher and freediver and posts her adventures on Instagram.
Jeanine Grasmeijer
Jeanine Grasmeijer currently holds the world Record in free immersion. (Find her on Facebook or Instagram)
Sara Campbell
Sara Campbell has held several world records and now teaches Yoga For Freediving
Tanya Streeter
Tanya Streeter has held the no limits world record since 2002. She was inducted in the Women Diver’s Hall of Fame in 2000. You can find her on Facebook.
Radziah Radzi
Radziah Radzi is an AIDA competition judge based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She has ample advice for other Muslim female freedivers for dealing with traditional Muslim garb. You can find her on instagram.

Is freediving an equal opportunity sport?

Jeanine: It is definitely an equal opportunity sport in the Netherlands. If anything women are encouraged to take part in freediving. Why we don’t have half as many female athletes as male, I don’t know. It’s not like soccer, which is still considered a very masculine sport. This can be a pretty big barrier for girls to start and/or continue, society basically discourages them from it. But freediving is both: Very masculine because of it’s extreme nature and very feminine in it’s gracefulness and spirituality. So it fits both parties.

But since you ask, I’ll whine a bit. As in most sports men will always be better, when you look at the numbers. They always go deeper, further and longer. So their performances will always be seen as the ultimate performance, the maximum of human capability. It’s only when a woman exceeds a man’s performance that she rises to his level. As was the case with Natalia Molchanova (all hail the Queen!)

I’ve heard say that women should physically be able to reach the same depths as men and that it’s a matter of training. I don’t believe this. It’s a mental sport yes, but 20% is still physical. As far as I know there are no physical sports where women’s world records consistently equal or exceed men’s. Men and women are built different. So I believe women should sooner be seen as exceptional in their own right. This is for all sports, not just freediving.

Valentine: I am more into spearfishing than into ‘pure’ freediving, but I think it is. The women in my freediving classes sometimes have a bigger mental barrier, but once they go past that they are amazing!

Sara Campbell: Absolutely! Mainly because it’s not a professional sport yet so it’s open to everyone to get involved and do their best. As and when (and if) it becomes more professional, with government subsidies and more serious and broader sponsorship offers, then we might see things change. But for now, each athlete creates his or her own opportunities and can embrace equally all the the sport and the ocean has to offer.

However, I do recognize that for people living in Europe, or away from opportunities for regular, quality depth training, it can be challenging and frustrating. To have depth training limited to a few short weeks a year, and still be relaxed with a goal of improving a PB or competing at a big event, such as the worlds, is almost asking the impossible. But this applies to all freedivers, not just women.

Radziah: I think it is equal opportunity for men and women. Actually, if we look into competitive freediving, our late freediving queen Natalia has held world records that were higher than the contemporaneous men’s records! Perhaps, because it is such a mental sport, maybe women have the upper hand haha! Just kidding ;)… In Malaysia, some of the women’s national records are higher than the men’s.

Unfortunately, because it is a sport without much sponsorship, it is not equal opportunity for people in different countries. Naturally, if you live in a richer country with access to deep and warm water you will have much more opportunity than if you live in a landlocked developing country. Unless you can pay for international airfare, competition fees, and the cost of training you won’t be able to compete on the same level.

Tanya: I do believe freediving is an equal opportunity sport! The playing field is pretty level!

Are there (or have there been) any barriers for your participation in the sport?

Jeanine Grasmeijer: Not when it comes to gender inequality. The barriers I’ve faced were either financial or personal.

Tanya Streeter: There have been no barriers for me, but I did retire from competition before having children, by choice.

Sara Campbell: Living in Dahab I never experienced any barriers for participation. The limitations of the sport as it is right now in terms of sponsorship, creates barriers for athletes to open up opportunities for more time training depth. I think however, that this year has seen a break-through of that paradigm – the invention of the Dive-Eye underwater camera at the worlds will hopefully break the vicious circle that athletes have found themselves in; it is not possibly to convince big serious sponsors to get involved either at the event or personal level, until there is serious, mainstream coverage for them to realize return on their investment. The Dive-Eye will hopefully be the break in that cycle that athletes and event organizers have been waiting for.

Valentine Thomas: My brain haha. Freediving is such a mental sport and sometimes my mind plays tricks on me, it tells me to go back up and that I’m out of air when I’m not. I used to suffer from a lot of anxiety when I was younger, so this sport helped me overcome that. When you manage to let go, it is the best feeling in the world. The second barrier has been my ego. There is a competitive side of this sport and sometimes it makes you forget about what is truly important. We tend to forget that it is essentially a team sport!

Radziah Radzi: No, there have not been any barrier so far for me to participate in the sport either competitively or just for leisure.

But there are some challenges for me as a female Muslim freediver.

I consciously choose to sacrifice performance to adhere to my religion. It is not just about the headcover, but also about wearing a loose outfit rather than a snugly fitting wetsuit. I still wear a wetsuit but I do cover it with a rashguard, tennis skirt and long pants. Of course this is a personal choice, and everyone should decide for themselves. To other Muslim freediving women I just want to share these:

  • If you choose to wear draggy clothes outside your wetsuit, realize and embrace the fact that you are losing performance (only slightly).
  • Come to terms with the sacrifice you choose to make to adhere to our faith. If you don’t glide as far per stroke as someone not wearing a loose-fitting rashguard, it’s okay, and you can try to compensate another way to swim the same distance.

What do you think of the way women who freedive are represented (or the way you represent yourself) on social media?

Jeanine Grasmeijer: People choose how they present themselves in photos and on social media, it’s in their own hands. Someone once told me: ‘If you want followers as a girl, you need to show some skin’. This is a fact and you can use it to your advantage. There is no doubt in my mind that the most popular freediving women on social media are very fit and feminine and not afraid to show it. But it’s certainly not specific for freediving and it’s not the only way. You can also be funny, inspirational, motivational, educational, etc. Either way, I think anyone who has the courage to put himself out into the superficial world of social media and inspire people, is amazing.

Valentine Thomas: A lot of women in freediving are naturally sexy and fit. I think it is admirable to be comfortable with your body and who you are. That doesn’t mean posting pictures of you bending over, it just means that you acknowledge you can be a sexy woman. I believe confidence is sexy. Some men like to complain that women get more popularity just because they show bikini pictures. The reality is that it is still a men’s world, and women are at a disadvantage for a lot of things in society, so I don’t think using our looks to empower ourselves is a bad thing. And in the end, we should all get together and have each other’s back.

As a woman, a lot of people accused me of posing with fish that weren’t mine. I did this once when I started out, on my second time spearfishing. Initially I just didn’t think it mattered, but I quickly realized that if you are a woman, you have to achieve double if you want credibility. But I don’t want to sound pessimistic. In the end it was all the bad talk that pushed me to do a freediving course and made me push my limits as a diver.

Sara Campbell: I think it’s great to see more and more women approaching and breaking through the 100m ‘glass ceiling’. Many of them are doing really well with self-promotion, but it varies according to their own expertise, contacts and drive and desire. Ideally, with sponsorship, each athlete could employ a social media/brand manager to handle their online presence to really promote themselves and maximize opportunities for both promotion and earning, through public speaking and media appearances. Currently, it’s ad hoc, according to the individual athlete’s own abilities, budget and feelings.

As for my personal marketing, I’ve moved away from promoting myself as an athlete and am now working to promote my teachings, my school, Discover Your Depths, and my online training program ‘Yoga for Freediving‘. As I’m now working in the sport, I have a dedicated social media manager, as well as graphic designer, website manager etc. But this is beyond the reach of most athletes, and some coaches. It’s tough, I struggled, and still do. And of course the more popular the sport comes, the busier the market and the harder each of us has to work to be seen and heard. Big diving results, such as national and world records are invaluable for both men and women when it comes to promotion because the world and the media loves to benchmark us, but of course they are not the be all and end all when it comes to the greater experience of the sport – that is something between the athlete/diver and the ocean itself.

Tanya Streeter: I think the freediving world is currently full of women representing themselves and the sport responsibly. And I think they bring a softer approach to a fiercely competitive sport, which is great.

Radziah Radzi: I think that the women in freediving are represented well, fairly and with respect of their capabilities as athletes. If we compare how men and women are represented in social media, we can’t deny the fact that women’s physical beauty, attractiveness, and sex appeal do play a role in their “popularity”. However, for the athletes, I don’t think this overshadows their freediving ability, after all they are all well performing freedivers and deserve the recognition.

I do remember a recent post about a female freediver breaking a National Record for Static (I don’t remember her nationality though). Her post appeared in the AIDA International FB page. So, naturally people congratulated her. However, one guy thought it was funny to comment something along these lines: “You know she is good gf/wife material as she can keep her mouth shut for that long”. Of course a lot of people expressed their distaste (guys included). It was very distasteful, and comments like these belittle her fantastic performance for no reason.

There are certain recurring themes in social media. Some female freedivers identify themselves as mermaids, spearfishing women, underwater models, freediving instructors or experts, freediver yogis, vegan/vegetarian/clean eating freedivers, while other freedivers just share their activities; training or excursions on social media. I do not have any issue with this. What I do have an issue with is posts of over exposing butt and cleavage shots.  I think some of the social media accounts that have these posts are run by men, but even so the women are legit female freedivers, and maybe they do spearfish too. Unfortunately, most of the photos just show them wearing sexy bikinis, and holding a big fish in a seductive pose! Sometimes they do have underwater shots while wearing a very sexy bikini and holding a spearfishing gun but many times these are shots from (the) “behind”. It could just be my culture, or maybe I am too old-school, but I don’t find those are tasteful photos. Though maybe they do dress that way while spearfishing and maybe they are really proud of the big fish they caught, but I can’t help but cringe while thinking of how those photos are viewed by men. And I think it only portrays female spearfishers as seductive and sexy, not as great spearfishers. Not everybody does this of course. I think these shots are mostly on spearfishing social media accounts for or by men, which I unfollow instantly.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Jeanine Grasmeijer: Yes! I do. There is something that I noticed during the AIDA Depth World Championships in Roatan: The men and women’s performances were separated and what a difference it made. Because they were separate the women’s competition was much more exciting. A 90-m dive for a man may not mean a medal while that could be gold for a woman This is what I was talking about before. Competing at the same time as men doesn’t do justice to the performances of women.I think separating the men’s and women’s dives should be standard procedure, after all, they don’t dive for the same medals.

Radziah Radzi: I just would like to share something about the experiences I had as a Muslim freediver. I need to plan a little different from other divers. For example, changing attire is something that needs to be planned for someone who can’t show any skin. I have gone, fully prepared in my wetsuit, from hotel room to dive spot and vice versa to avoid showing any skin.

When I went to Adam Stern’s DeepWeek training in Bali we sometimes had a classroom session in the dive centre before the dive, so I would wear my wetsuit in the classroom session. “Are you not hot?”, is a normal question. I wear just a 1.5 mm wetsuit and I don’t have any problems with heat but I do need to plan ahead of time to avoid changing trouble.

There can also be a bit of social awkwardness because different cultures mix. For example, I try to adhere to the rule of not touching men that are not of blood relation to me. I struggle between choosing not to be rude versus strictly adhering to that rule.

Some people from western countries are not aware about this and they will offer a hug or shake hands. I sometimes accept the hand shake but I will try not to hug. Every now and then someone won’t give me a choice though, and I am too slow to say “urm.. sorry I can’t hug you” haha.

On another note, some Muslim female freedivers from abroad have also asked me for advice, on how do I freedive while protecting my aurat (female muslims’ parts that have to be guarded from non-family males’ eyes). They ask questions like what kind of head cover I use, how do I keep it on while freediving and doing water activities and what are good swimming attires for Muslimah (female Muslim). This makes me feel that I have a purpose that even while I’m not a big performer, athlete or instructor, I can still contribute.

Join in on the conversation with the comments below!

Success and Failure by Sara Campbell review

This review was written by Luca Malaguti.

The latest course by Sara Campbell, Success and Failure, touches on several familiar (and personal) issues that are relevant in freediving today. The idea that we are always being watched generates a polarity in people’s minds, one in which there are only two options: to succeed and break a record or to fail and be disregarded entirely. This is the mindset of many freedivers today. If they don’t break that new record, then all those personal achievements along the way, are forgotten.

There’s a beautiful old photo of Jacques Mayol standing on the edge of a small, wooden raft holding a large stone with a rope attached to the end of it. Practicing the ancient freediving art of Skandalopetra, he has no watch, almost no viewers, no judges, and no timekeepers. When I’m stressed about my performances, how good my breath-hold is, or how deep I went last time, I think of this photo and of how Jacques Mayol became a freediving role model, by increasing depth and time slowly, simply because he loved it and dove often.

Success and Failure is about the illusion that we must succeed for others and not ourselves. The illusion that we must set standards so high that anything which falls short is automatically a failure. If this means taking more time to go at a certain depth, even during a competition, then so be it. Like Aharon Solomons says, if you black out you went too deep, something went wrong and you should take a step back in your training. This is an issue in today’s freediving competitions because a lot of competitive freedivers black out several times before “succeeding” to hold up that white little card for a few seconds. Is this really success? By enforcing this mentality of “push at all costs” are we not slowly edging the sport into a world of cheating and doping?

Success and Failure
How do you cultivate a mindset that allows you to improve without focusing on the numbers? How do you deal with the setbacks that inevitably come on your way to the deep? It is all in Sara’s new course, Success and Failure

Sara’s course couldn’t come out at a better time. She makes her viewers re-think what success means, on an individual level and not on an AIDA roster. When we follow the standards set by our ego (influenced by external factors), then we are most likely to fail (or what we perceive as failure) and so this can generate, as Sara mentions, self-animosity. Grounded in fear and disappointment towards ourselves, self-animosity can kill our confidence and even our passion for freediving. No one, that I know of, has said this better than Henry Miller, “The mind is its own place and in itself, can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” Sara’s courses help deal with this; they re-establish a notion that of what counts by focusing on the self. You sat down on that mat, you held that breath, you ended with a smile on your face and not a frown. That joy is addictive and will motivate you to continue this practice.

Sodarshan Chakra Kriya is a challenging exercise for people, such as myself, that need the depth of a cold and dark body of water to enter a state of focus. Poolside statics are not enough for me to relax at times, whereas a hang at depth can do so. However, it’s important that we address these problems and, like Sara mentions, “clean out the closet of our subconscious”. If we’re not able to sit down on a mat and focus, or our mind runs wild with other thoughts, then this exercise can help. It’s challenging at first, to focus on repeating the phrases “wah-hey guru” in your head and staring at the tip of your nose. But after a while, your rambling thoughts will funnel into clear focus.

Success and Failure

Success and Failure is the combination of ancient practices that have been refined to perfection over thousands of years with today’s modern problems. Everything we do is under scrutiny, recorded by a camera or mentioned in a forum. This polarizes sports: you’re good enough or not. Freediving transcends this however, and requires a great deal of patience, especially with ourselves. To set standards according to others and not ourselves is a recipe for failure. Listening to our inner voice and overcoming this idea that we must be perfect in everything we do is how we succeed, even if by minute increments.

As Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha beautifully explains this, “Wisdom is not communicable. The wisdom which a wise man tries to communicate always sounds foolish…Knowledge can be conveyed, but not wisdom. It can be found, it can be lived, it is possible to be carried by it, miracles can be performed with it, but it cannot be expressed in words and taught”.

Go to Yoga for Freediving (external link)

Other courses in the series:

Training and Performance by Sara Campbell review

This post was submitted by Luca Malaguti.

In Training and Performance Sara guides you through a series of hands-on and practical exercises that apply to all facets of freedive training. I really like that Sara starts off the program by explaining a few things we tend to forget in athletic training, and especially in freediving.

Cultivating continuous improvement

Sara teaches us about the balance between sustainability and challenge. We should strive for continuous gradual improvement. In order to achieve that we need to set attainable goals that gradually lead to improvement. Setting the bar too high may lead be demoralizing, undermine our confidence, and take the enjoyment out of the dives.  Sara emphasizes that it is important to advance patiently and step outside of our comfort zone during training, but not venture too far beyond it, in order to allow for continuous progress.

'Yoga For Freediving' is a series of online yoga courses by Sara Campbell
‘Yoga For Freediving’ is a series of online yoga courses by Sara Campbell

Just as many positions (asana) in hatha yoga seem intimidating at first, breathing exercises (pranayama) can be equally daunting. Recall your first wobbly downward dog? However, Sara presents the exercises in a way that they gradually become more complicated and demanding. This I particularly appreciate. For this reason her video lessons are very effective. You have a mentor in front of you guiding your practice step by step. A lot of the exercises Sara goes over I have read them in books many times over, but having Sara in front of me belly pumping for 3 minutes pushes me to keep up with her and advance my practice so that I feel those new sensations. On my own I would probably stop after 60 seconds.

Training and Performance videos

Sara’s course contains 6 specific videos:

  • Training zone (~10 min lecture)
  • Comfort zone (~10 min lecture)
  • Pranayama – basic breath series (~45 min breathing exercise)

I found it effective to start with a few breath cycles before starting alternate nostril breathing. This way the nasal cavities are somewhat clear before the alternate nostril breathing exercise. Alternate nostril breathing is an important exercise to begin your practice with because it gets you “in the mood” to continue. Whether it is the effect of nitric oxides or just an overall cleansing sensation, this exercise first thing in the morning can really put a smile on your face.

  • Kriya – basic spinal energizer (~50 min exercise)

The spinal energizer is a truly fantastic exercise. However, if you find it painful to sit in the lotus or the partial lotus position (for example because of a knee injury, my problem), you can try sitting down with your bum touching your heels. This is known as vajra-asana or position of the diamond. This position may help to relieve some of the tension on the knees generated by the twisting.

  • Respecting your body (~10 min lecture)
  • Visualization – perfect dive (20 min exercise)

Training and Performance also comes with more than 20 extra videos and other materials to help you with your practice. The lectures and visualisation are available in MP3 format so you can bring them with you and listen to them before you dive, or on the road.

Training and performance
Training and Performance is the 4th part of Sara Campbell’s ‘Yoga For Freediving’ series.

In Training and Performance Sara goes over excellent exercises that connect movements with breath. I look forward to using them to advance my practice in freediving, while enjoying having my teacher in front of me guiding and motivating me through my practice. The way that Sara interacts with her viewers brings them by her side, and allows them to imagine a morning of diaphragm exercises on the beaches in Dahab.

Go to Yoga For Freediving by Sara Campbell (external link)

Other reviews of Yoga for Freediving by Sara Campbell

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Energy Beyond Breath by Sara Campbell

Energy Beyond Breath is the third part in the Yoga for Freediving series by Sara Campbell. Energy Beyond Breath delves into the science and belief behind pranayama. From this philosophical framework it gives you a powerful set of meditations to use for your freediving. As with the first and second parts of Yoga for Freediving, Energy Beyond Breath contains meditations and lectures specific for the course and over 20 bonus videos.

Nadis

Nadis are the channels in your body through which energy flows. Under the correct conditions the energy of Kundalini will uncoil and flow through your body. This concept is central to the meditations in Energy Beyond Breath.

The videos

The first video in Energy Beyond Breath teaches you a pranayama that will train you to clear the nadis, so energy may flow freely. The second video is a long visualization (one of my favourites) which will teach you how to be aware and relax every part of your body. The third video is a pranayama based meditation. This meditation will teach you to look inside where you would rather look outside for causes that either bug you or help you (I will be successful/beautiful/better after ….). The fourth video teaches you a series of kriyas. You can think of kriyas as moving meditations that work towards a specific goal. This video is perhaps the strongest in this series, and teaches you how to create and conserve pranic energy. Especially it is meant to make sure you do not waste any energy on the meaningless things in life. This will help you during your dives as well as in every day life . The last video in the series is a mantra meditation that will teach you better diaphragmatic control.

What I really appreciated in Sara’s videos was how she managed to use Sanskrit. Energy Beyond Breath teaches you mantras that help you focus and guide your meditation practice. Timing will no longer be an issue. This is something I have struggled with when doing breathing exercises using a phone app or a watch. Sara presents the alternative of using Satnam in a practical pattern to stay on track with your breathing pattern. This technique allows you to focus on the exercise and enter a meditative trance without having to open your eyes to check a watch.

Similarly, invoking the word Har whilst doing belly pumps allows you to feel the correct sensations when repeating the words. We have to give credit to the Yogi and their ancient practices and admire how they were able to connect a physical sensation to vocal sound. For myself at least, when saying the words of Har (either out loud or in my mind) I can really feel the diaphragmatic pump and movement Sara is referring to. This is similar to the nasal vibrations of saying the famous Ohm and the amazing sensations linked to it. This includes, although unknown to the Yogi at the time, the connection between this type of nasal breathing and the beneficial production of “nitric oxide in cells that line the paranasal cavity”.

Finally, I would like to also mention the Yoga Nidra and its powerful visualization techniques. I seldom used visualization techniques in my static trainings, but I now see the benefits. In focusing on different parts of your body you (at least I do) reach a sense of relaxation. What do I mean by this? I find that by being self aware of my foot or leg, I can focus on realizing it’s presence of existence as one of my body’s limbs and then by accepting this I can “shut it off” and focus on the next part. All I really am in this mindframe is a heart and a brain. I even imagine myself as just a torso with a head stuck on top of it, floating limbless on water. This is very powerful, at least to me, and can really help induce a state of trance and calmness. At times, when a breath hold is uncomfortable and the contractions become unbearable, this visualization technique helps to take the focus away from those “painful” sensations and concentrate on the other parts of my body. Sara’s exercises are excellent and I highly recommend them.

Energy beyond breath
Energy Beyond Breath: part 3 of Yoga for Freediving

Personal experience

Jaap:

I have spent the last decade pursuing education in departments of science in both the Netherlands and Canada.  Hence, my feathers get a bit ruffled when talking about more philosophical things like cosmic energies. However, the meditations in this course are very powerful. They are perhaps also not for beginners. You need a fair level of comfort with mantra meditations to be able to fully immerse yourself in these exercises. If you are interested in Yoga for Freediving, I suggest you start with part one or part two (links below). However, all the material you need to start is given in this course so you can dive right in if you feel ready for Energy Beyond Breath. You will also need to have a fairly private space (a bit more soundproof than my noisy apartment) to be able to do all the exercises in this course privately, as you will be fairly loud!

Luca:

My background is in sciences and engineering. Because of this I have always taken scientific evidence above any mystical religious belief. However, I do believe that there is some scientific understanding of a concept that has been practiced for thousands of years. This practice being yoga, especially pranayama. I also have an immense appreciation for Indian culture and the language itself, and as I mentioned earlier I do believe that there is a strong connection between vocal pronunciation of Sanskrit words and a physical stimulus. I have spent enough time in India, practiced yoga on the banks of the Ganges in Varanasi, and spoke to many “enlightened” yogi to appreciate this art, which I practice myself quite often. But I am aware of my limitations in knowledge and translation.

The only difficulty I’ve had is really to understand the meanings behind the Sanskrit mantras. I understand the meaning of Ohm (it has been explained to me and I’ve read Hesse’s Siddhartha enough times to have a basic understanding).  However, I still  only vocalize it in meditation because I like the vibration it creates in my nasal cavity. Not because I know what the Yogis meant when they use it. Similarly with other Sanskrit terms, it can be difficult for the average freediver to incorporate them in his or her practice in a genuine way. One could just simply say the words, the same way most yoga practitioners execute mundane positions and call it enlightening. This is not the case in freediving, the meditative trance we seek must be true, genuine and pure. It must be something we believe in entirely. We should always doubt and question our practice, in this case: am I saying these words because I’ve learned to do so or because I believe in their powerful meaning. Therefore, I found myself disconnected with Sara’s practice at times because of this.

Of course this could be because I am a beginner in freediving with respect to Sara and her practice. We have to remember that pranayama and hatha yoga, contain a physical and mental component and are difficult to master. One we reach the kriya yoga, we must go beyond body and mind. This is the “spiritual” aspect and perhaps the most difficult to attain.

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Manage Your Mind by Sara Campbell

Manage Your Mind is part two of the Yoga For Freediving series by Sara Campbell. Manage Your Mind is a series of lectures and guided meditations that are designed to help you quiet your inner demons. Both the demons that tell you to go too deep too fast, and the ones that tell you to come up early.

manage your mind
Sara Campbell running freediving courses in
Dahab. Egypt. (Photo credit: Dan Burton)

Sara teaches us this with the help of Kundalini Yoga meditations, that are meant to balance your ‘positive mind’, your ‘negative mind’ and your ‘neutral mind’. Additionally one pranayama is designed to stress your body through breathhold, which both triggers your fears so you can confront them, and helps you develop the strength you need to overcome them. The awareness of your own mind and how it behaves during stress (long, deep dives, or just breath holds in general) is key if you want to improve in freediving.

Interested? Check the Yoga For Freediving website.

As with part one of the Yoga For Freediving series, Deep Relaxation, Manage Your Mind is for the freediver who is held back by the mental aspects of freediving. Even if you believe more physical training is what you need to overcome squeezes and blackout , the chances are that balancing your physical and technique training, with getting to grips with your thought patterns and how they sabotage you, is what is really going to set you straight for the longterm. Meditating in general will have positive effects on all aspects of your life, not just your freediving. Sara Campbell’s course is unique in that the lectures combined with the mediations covered in Manage Your Mind create a course that is especially geared towards freediving and very useful for those freedivers that feel the mind needs more direction during long dives and breath holds.

What you get:

  • About two hours of video lectures and meditations
  • 22 How-to videos covering the essential basics of Yoga For Freediving

Manage your mind by sara Campbell

Personal Experience

I meditate daily, and have done so for a long time. Hence, my routine was established before I did this review and so I have not followed Sara’s recommendations to the letter. However, the course did make me reflect on what mind dominates during my dives (positive, negative, neutral) and that awareness has helped me in my dives. It has not produced a measurable difference in length or depth (yet?), but my peace of mind during dives is greater, because I have a better handle on what exactly makes me stay down, or come back up to the surface.

Yoga for Freediving: Part 1

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Yoga for Freediving by Sara Campbell

Yoga for Freediving is one of the best ways to train for freediving. Pranayama, meaning breath control in Sanskrit, is a discipline that finds its origin in ancient India. In western culture, yoga is commonly seen as a stretching exercise, but it is much more than that. Yoga increases the awareness of the body and the control of both breath and mind in ways that a stretching exercise can never do on its own. You could argue that freediving is actually a form of yoga.

yoga for freediving
Yoga for Freediving: deep relaxation will be launched on June 21st 2016; International Yoga Day

Sara Campbell is a four times world record holder, with a personal best CWT of 104m. It is the practice of yoga, and the mental and physical benefits of yoga that have allowed her to get there. Sara is releasing her first yoga for Freediving course on the 21st of June, International Yoga Day, and Freedive Wire has had a chance to review it.

 “Freediving, and yoga and meditation are more than inextricably linked, they are one and the same thing. If freedivers want to create the best foundations for their training, and really see their performance improve exponentially, meditation and disciplining the mind is the one place they need to focus their attention.” – Sara

Yoga for Freediving: Deep Relaxation

Deep Relaxation is the first of six of the Yoga for Freediving courses. It is a resource that is beneficial for divers of any level. Deep Relaxation is an online course that works mainly with simple meditations, exercises and lectures. By signing up you are effectively inviting Sara Campbell as your private yoga teacher to guide you through meditations and yoga postures. Within the course you can find 28 lectures that add up to about 6 hours of material (22 of these are core How To materials which appear in every course to ensure you have the basics to hand each time; the unique content to every course is around 2 hours per course).

The most important videos, the guided meditations and lectures, are also downloadable as mp3’s. This is a great addition, because you can download them to your mp3 player and do them in the park if you wish. Nothing like meditating on the beach, just before you get into the water.

The videos are highly geared towards freediving, and all contain Sara’s personal perspective on how it affects performance. An example of a ‘how to’ video is ‘how to get the deepest inhale’. It won’t get much more applicable to freediving than this.

“There is more than enough information available for freedivers on the technical aspects of the sport, i.e. how to dive. But to date there is really no structured approach tailored to freedivers explaining the essentials of spirituality within freediving or teaching how to integrate yoga and meditation into their training. Learning to master the mental and emotional aspects of a dive are the make or break of every experience in the water. I’m excited to finally address this crucial aspect for freedivers of all levels.” -Sara

yoga for freediving
Sara teaching Kundalini Yoga. Photo credit: Embah Safari

Personal experience

When I started freediving, I did daily yoga sessions and often meditated outside of that. These yoga sessions were not geared specifically to freediving, but they had a profound effect on my performance. If I meditated before statics, I would get contractions after 3 ½ minutes (my p.b. then was 4 minutes). If I do not meditate at all, my contractions start at 2 – 2 ½ minutes (my p.b. now: 5:20 minutes.

My most relaxed diving session of this season, was after I had started reviewing yoga for Freediving, and specifically, did a 40 minutes guided meditation by Sara. I believe Yoga for Freediving is a great resource for all freedivers that you can keep referring back to and I think many freedivers will agree with me.

Find out more here.

 

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