My destiny with the ocean was written in the stars. Born as a fish zodiac, my earliest memory of the water was voluntarily plopping in while wearing floaties, kicking my feet and just taking to the water. I didn’t have to be pushed. I didn’t have to be shoved. And ever since that day, I knew, I had found a place in my existence that was truly meant for me. I found my soulmate when I was 3 and every step that I’ve taken since then has been to sink deeper in her.
I took to scuba diving in 2017 and it has been a fanaticism of its own kind. The sport pulls you in with the marvels of everything that covers 80% of this planet. It is the most exclusive club that you can be a part of. To glide with Mantas, float with turtles and swim with sharks is nothing short of privilege. But what started off as visual gratification slowly started getting internalised and that’s where I met my breath for the first time. Breath is central to truly enjoying any time underwater. Our breath controls our buoyancy, our buoyancy controls our conduct, and our conduct defines our experience.
While I was good at understanding this in theory, it didn’t take me time to realise that I had to lean on another principle to romance the ocean. That’s when I gravitated towards yoga and decided to make controlled breathing second nature to me. Controlled breathing is central to both principles. In yoga, it helps you get the full benefit of the asana and in diving it affects your buoyancy. So, I decided to make the most of my time on land with yoga so that I could make the most of my
With breath work improving my form as a diver, there was an itch to discover more and seek more.
I had been exposed to visuals of freediving while casually scrolling through Instagram and it felt like the next frontier I was meant to experience. Freediving came to me in Dec 2021 and it was like one of those whirlwind romances you don’t see coming.
Freediving in my opinion is the highest form of self-love for an ocean lover. There is no tank. There is no regulator. There is no BCD. Your only equipment is your mind which connects back to your biology and your breath.
While inducting yourself in scuba diving requires familiarization with actual equipment, freediving involves several breathwork drills. Apart from theory that familiarizes you with the biology of the sport which is fascinating to nerds like me (reading up on the Mammalian Dive Reflex had me drooling) , the course module includes training in static breath holds where I was surprised to see myself go up to 3:30 mins, static apnea drills (on land and in water) – these drills involve breathwork with movement to allow the body to get comfortable with the build up of lactic acid in the body, proper freediving technique – duckdive, finning technique and equalizing, all leading up to the actual freedives.
Freediving is all about that fleeting moment of harmony – a streamlined body and a calm mind that kicks in the biology of optimum oygen utilization for just a couple of minutes of magic. A racy mind cannot freedive. It is physically impossible to optimize a long breath hold if you are anxious. So, to be able to step back, talk to your mind to slow down, take that big gasp of air and freefall is a different kind of control.
You control before you let go and that experience is spiritual and cathartic to say the least.
Everyone takes from a sport what they wish to. Some want to sink deeper and longer. But for me, freediving gives me the ability to dance in the water and romance my soulmate in a way I only dreamt about, quite literally. So you see, my destiny with the ocean was written in the stars. And now as a freediver, I flip, turn and spin like a mermaid who’s finally home.