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Breathing Techniques For Freediving


Freediving course Wollongong students with Curtis Tredway

Here at Deep Sensations Freediving, we're committed to empowering divers with the knowledge and skills they need to excel in the water.


One crucial aspect of freediving is mastering your breath control, which can significantly impact your ability to explore the depths safely and efficiently.


In this comprehensive post, we'll explore various breathing techniques tailored specifically for freediving, incorporating insights from experts and practical tips to help you elevate your underwater experience.


Understanding the Importance of Breath Control


Dani demonstrating breath control for freediving

Before delving into specific techniques, it's essential to grasp why breath control is paramount in freediving. Efficient breathing not only optimises oxygen intake but also promotes relaxation and reduces stress, crucial elements for prolonged breath-holding and deep dives. By honing your breath control skills, you can enhance your endurance, extend your bottom time, and elevate your overall freediving performance.


Diaphragmatic Breathing: Harnessing the Power of


Byron Bay freediving retreat students doing morning breathwork before their dive.


Abdominal Breath

Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as belly breathing, serves as the foundation for effective breath control in freediving. This technique activates the diaphragm, facilitating deep inhalation and relaxation.


To practice diaphragmatic breathing:


  • Find a comfortable position, either sitting or lying down.

  • Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen, just below your ribs.

  • Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, allowing your abdomen to expand.

  • Exhale gradually through your mouth, pursing your lips together to control the flow of air.

  • Repeat this exercise for 10-15 minutes daily, focusing on maintaining a relaxed state and adjusting the inhalation-to-exhalation ratio to suit your body type.


Tidal Breathing: Finding Natural Rhythm and Relaxation


Curtis Tredway performing tidal breathing before freediving Lake Eacham


Before delving into structured breathing exercises, it's crucial to reconnect with your body's natural breathing rhythm through tidal breathing.


This approach, favoured by Molchanov's Freediving system, emphasises the importance of maintaining a relaxed and effortless breathing pattern, akin to the gentle ebb and flow of ocean tides.


Tidal breathing serves as the foundation for breath control in freediving, promoting relaxation and reducing the risk of hyperventilation-induced complications.


Ratio Breathing: Fine-Tuning Breath Control for Optimal Performance


Ratio Breathing for freediving banner


In conjunction with tidal breathing, ratio breathing offers a structured approach to optimising breath control and enhancing freediving performance.


This technique involves establishing specific inhalation-to-exhalation ratios tailored to individual body types and diving goals.


By experimenting 1:2 (4 second inhale and 8 second exhale, or similar), divers can fine-tune their breath control to achieve a balance between oxygen intake and carbon dioxide expulsion.


Ratio breathing not only fosters relaxation and mental clarity but also enhances physiological adaptation to breath-holding challenges, ultimately contributing to safer and more efficient dives.


Segmented Breathing: Enhancing Thoracic Flexibility for Deeper Dives

Segmented breathing targets specific areas of the thoracic cavity, improving flexibility and facilitating deeper breaths during the relaxation phase. This technique involves isolating and breathing into different sections of the chest, including the stomach, intercostals, and chest.


Follow these steps to practice segmented breathing:


  • Begin by focusing on the stomach, inhaling slowly to fill the abdomen while keeping the chest still.

  • Gradually move on to the intercostals and chest, maintaining muscle isolation and a controlled breathing rhythm.

  • Experiment with different inhalation-to-exhalation ratios to find the optimal pattern for your body type.

  • Practice each section for 2 minutes, gradually building flexibility and capacity in your thoracic cavity.


Square Breathing: Cultivating Relaxation and Mindfulness


Deep Sensations Freediving box breathing diagram


Square breathing, also known as box breathing, serves as a pre-dive relaxation routine, promoting calmness and mindfulness before entering the water. This technique involves inhaling, holding, exhaling, and pausing for equal durations, forming a square pattern.


To perform square breathing:


  • Inhale deeply through your nose for a count of four.

  • Hold your breath for a count of four.

  • Exhale slowly through your mouth for a count of four.

  • Pause for a count of four before beginning the next cycle.

  • Repeat this pattern for 3-minute durations, gradually extending the duration as you become more comfortable.


Lung Stretching: Improving Flexibility and Total Lung Capacity


Matt Johnson performing free immersion in Lake Eacham

Lung stretching exercises target respiratory muscles, enhancing flexibility and increasing total lung capacity, essential for efficient equalization and prolonged breath-holding.


Practice these lung stretching exercises with caution, ensuring warmth and gentle movements:


  • Perform basic full lung stretches by sitting with a straight back, inhaling deeply, and extending your arms overhead to stretch the chest.

  • Practice light exhale stretching by exhaling fully, then gently sucking against the closed vocal fold to stretch the diaphragm.

  • Incorporate lung stretching into your warm-up routine, gradually increasing intensity and duration over time.


Safety First: A Note on Practice


Tim Frankel demonstrating a perfect breathe-up for freediving for freed


While these breathing techniques offer valuable benefits for freediving, safety should always remain a top priority.


Never practice breath-holding exercises alone, and consult with a trained instructor if you experience any discomfort or adverse effects during practice.


Remember to maintain awareness of your body's limits and listen to its signals to ensure a safe and enjoyable freediving experience.


Understanding Hyperventilation: Risks and Consequences


Hyperventilation, marked by rapid and excessive breathing, poses significant risks to freedivers, despite its initial comfort-inducing effects.


While hyperventilation may create a temporary sensation of increased breath-holding capacity, it actually reduces the availability of oxygen in the bloodstream.


This occurs because hyperventilation leads to an excessive reduction in carbon dioxide levels, causing oxygen molecules to bind more tightly to hemoglobin, resulting in decreased oxygen delivery to tissues.


Consequently, although hyperventilation may delay the urge to breathe, it ultimately shortens breath-hold duration due to diminished oxygen availability. This paradoxical effect underscores the importance of avoiding hyperventilation and prioritising balanced breathing practices to ensure safe and effective freediving experiences.


In conclusion, mastering breathing techniques is essential for maximising your freediving potential.


By incorporating these methods into your training regimen and prioritizing safety and mindfulness, you can enhance your breath control, endurance, and overall performance in the water.


Dive deeper, stay longer, and unlock the wonders of the underwater world with confidence and skill.


P.S. The Power of Professional Instruction


Curtis Tredway coaching a student on a max static breathhold.


While online resources offer insights, nothing compares to hands-on training with a certified freediving instructor.


In-person guidance ensures safety and deep understanding of techniques.


Dive deeper with confidence and competence by enrolling in our certified freediving course. Visit our website and embark on your freediving journey today!


We offer freediving courses in Wollongong, Shellharbour, Kiama, Cronulla, Sydney and Central Coast - Join us today!

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