Yoga vs. Diving: How they compare
The ancient practice of yoga is a technique that a growing number of people are enjoying to bring themselves back down to earth. It connects us with ourselves, the world, and keeps our mind focused yet totally still. Scuba diving, sitting on the other end of the spectrum as a new innovation in breathing technology, allows us for the first time to explore the great abyss of the ocean. Despite diving having a plethora of practical functions in the world (such as recovering lost objects), the vast majority of recreational divers find themselves in a state of total tranquillity, yet fully alert while drifting through the oceans depths. In these ways we can connect these two niche pastimes.
The first thing your diving instructor will teach you on your very first scuba dive is to breathe slowly, deeply, and continuously. While an overexertion of breath can lead to medical complications, this breathing technique is emphasised in order to keep your mind and body calm and focused. Ask any yoga instructor what the most important feature of yoga is, and they will tell you exactly the same thing. Ujjayi breath is a method of deep breathing employed by yogis and is fittingly also known as ‘ocean breath’. It is used for calming and to increase oxygen levels in the body. Deep, elongated, audible breaths are assumed which in turn creates a meditative state of self-awareness.
Because water is so much denser than air, more energy is required to travel underwater. Divers swim leisurely and use their breath to make sure they are not exceeding an appropriate pace, to remain composed and attentive, and to monitor their buoyancy. Divers are urged to never ever hold their breath and, like yoga, to maintain an equal exhale to inhale. Inhaling can elevate a diver in the water to glide over rocks or other obstacles, and exhaling allows the diver to fall. The effect of breath in the underwater world allows divers to completely control their buoyancy and enables them to hover mid-water with a sensation of zero gravity.
Scuba diving has enabled us to explore the crevices of the sea floor that would otherwise be imperceptible to humans. This technology has opened up doors in countless fields, and is continually developing and allowing for further advancements. The most evident professional use of scuba diving is for marine biologists to observe and investigate flora and fauna in their natural habitats. Nature documentary makers and photographers are also now able to access unexplored depths with high tech cameras and video equipment. The military has trained frogmen used in operations involving submarines and naval vessels. Finally, the police force are also benefited by employing professional divers to recover bodies or lost objects.
Like diving, yoga too has incredibly beneficial practical gains, mostly in the medical field. Mental health patients have reported to improve significantly after consistent yoga practice, especially for people suffering from depression, anxiety, stress, and even schizophrenia. Yoga has been proven to also radically reduce pain especially in the back. Along with these medical benefits, yoga is commonly associated with the development of a spiritual connectedness with oneself and the world, encouraging control of the mind and body, and eventually initiating a state of meditation.
Compared to other physical practices including most sports, both diving and yoga arecompletely inclusionary in nature. They are available to almost everyone! Aside from children under 10 years old, people who cannot swim, and very few people with a constraining medical condition, scuba diving is open to anyone and everyone. Given the vast amount of bodies of water on the planet, there arethousands of different dives available in different conditions that allow for a relaxing easy dive today, and an adrenaline-pumping dive facing currents and sharks tomorrow! Like diving, yoga also has a style for everyone. In fact each pose itself will have countless variations, allowing for all body types to participate. Neither practice discriminates against age, gender or body type. Also, aside from the very few landlocked countries (with no lakes, rivers or seas in them!), yoga and scuba diving are available almost all over the world.
Finally, yogis and divers are both devotees to global networks of people that have created tight knit communities. The PADI community of divers for instance allows for fellow divers to compare dive sites, have a universally recognised certification, and feel a sense of meaningful belonging. The yoga community does not have an umbrella network equivalent to PADI, but, like divers, yogis feel a sense of connectedness with everyone who has pursued the spiritual path of yoga. This sense of shared community as a result of a mutual interest keeps divers and yogis motivated and passionate.