One Breath at a Time
by Crizy Austria
Under the water, I clear my mind and focus on the sounds of my breath and the stunning view. Both of these alleviate my body’s stress response and rejuvenate my mind.
(photo by @_cristelclear)
Freediving has revealed a whole new side of myself that I didn’t know existed; the power I possess not just physically but mentally. I understood on a deeper level the power of mindfulness, the power of even just one breath to transform our lives, keep us focused, and present. Maybe it is the element of water — this hugely ingrained, evolutionary relationship we have with the water which most of us become disconnected from early in life — maybe that is the missing link to the inexplicable, profound level of peacefulness.
It is an exhilarating feeling shared by a simple community. With every trip to the Tribe, I make great friends and fellow divers who also gladly shared how freediving helped them in their journey.
All @culturd.mnl’s head booch-in-charge, Barbie Candano wanted was a change in scenery — a respite from the urban cabin fever and monotonous grind of the work-from-home setup, a small break from the mental load of never-ending errands and household chores, a space where she could reclaim her power. “Discovering freediving taught me to live in the present moment and to channel my fear of the unknown into a hunger for growth and adventure. Life has never been the same since, and neither have I.”
She and her partner, Richard Liao, a fitness, nutrition, and wellness coach, booked a 6-day workcation trip at Freedive Tribe PH with no expectations.
“We met great people who we resonated with and learned the sport which, for me, opened a new perspective of how powerful the human body is. As I dove into the deep sea, I was brought into the present moment like never before. Equipped only with a single breath and a still mind, I felt like descending into the lair of the unknown. I'd always sink in water and didn't know how to tread properly but with the help of knowledgeable coaches, I conquered my fear of drowning and came to a point where I enjoyed sitting with it. Now, I look forward to each dive because I learn more about myself. Fear would usually set the boundary for my limits, but now I know that it holds the gateway to complete freedom--all I need to do is let myself be completely submerged in the present moment.”
It resonated with me when research associate Cristel Amarillo mentioned that being with nature is a need. “A need that was deprived for so many months that I felt numb. I was about to lose myself. One night, I just couldn't sleep in my room. I went out to the garden, pitched my tent, set up an inflatable kiddie pool, and started scrolling on my Feed when an ad "Work from Beach" popped up. It was a risk but I was about to go insane. I booked my week-long stay with friends."
“I felt alive again. Roosters crowing, insects buzzing, and of course, the calmness of the morning tide mixed with the busy feeding frenzy of schools of fishes. On every breath hold, I could breathe. Wake up, yoga, dive, eat, work, dive, work, sleep, repeat. Pet all dogs who greet you, greet all people who smile at you. Five days passed by like five seconds. I fell in love in five seconds.” she added.
Freedive Tribe PH also offers yoga lessons for freedivers; Coach Ekai Maramara,owner and yoga teacher explained how freediving goes hand in hand with yoga.
“Yoga involves much more than the physical postures, called asanas. It also increases the awareness of the body, the control of your breath, and peace of mind. Which is a major play in freediving. The practice of breath regulation, called Pranayama, physically increases body awareness, lung flexibility, and C02 tolerance.”
Yoga and freediving have truly helped her step into her power. Believe it or not, she was a non-swimmer and was very scared of being in the open water. Until she saw a video of a guy that would dive down to 30 meters in a single breath. It inspired her to enroll in a freediving course and everything changed from there. She and her husband Coach Tugs trained and became certified freedivers; he became a certified instructor with her as his assistant coach while starting her yoga practice. Together, they built Freedive Tribe PH with a campsite and Beachfront HQ accommodating a hundred freedivers every weekend.
“I knew all too well that teaching is a hard row to hoe, especially if you're teaching scared traumatized non-swimmers. We are fully aware that it's hard to focus and relax for them. This is where I realized that yoga compliments free-diving.”
She enrolled at AV108 Yoga School for a 200-HR Yoga Teacher Training course with Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga as her foundation and became a 200-Registered Teacher with Yoga Alliance with 40 HR Hands-on Adjustment training. Since then, they’ve included yoga in their freediving courses.
“As a yoga teacher, I do not teach my students what to think, I teach them how to think. Meditation, visualization, and mental training are a big help. They find comfort and relaxation while asanas help them become more flexible by giving them more fluid movement in the water. It's priceless to see students overcome their fear and see them being comfortable in the open water. Because as a non-swimmer myself, I know how happy they are when they start floating and treading in the water. I can’t help but feel a tear escaping my eyes when they thank me and give feedback on how I changed their lives.”
I feel like I discovered the cure-all of our heart's ailments. The raw and blissful irony of a sport that leverages the evolutionary power of the lungs, heart, oxygenated blood, and diaphragm brings the greatest peace I ever felt.