Relaxation breathing is a powerful tool for freediving and for life in general in order to decrease your heart rate and help calm the body and mind.
In this podcast episode, I’ll go over a relaxation breathing technique, also known as the ‘Branko Petrovic Technique’, which is used in freediving to help you relax deeply before your freedives and breath-holds. It slows down your breathing and intake of oxygen, therefore relaxing your nervous system and bringing your body back to its natural restful state.
Because your heart-rate is lowered quite quickly and less oxygen is consumed, this means you’ll be able to hold your breath much longer. And even if you are not planning to do any freediving or breath-holding, the breathing technique can help anyone who wants to relax more and help to quite the mind.
While practicing this technique it’s important to breathe as relaxed as possible without tensing any part of your body and without straining your intercostal muscles or diaphragm in order to keep the heart rate low. This will help your mind and your muscles to actively prepare you for a period of non-breathing, and be chill about it.
The pause after each inhale and exhale helps to decrease your breathing rate even more, and this relaxation effect is enhanced even more when you do this breathing exercise in the water while breathing through a snorkel face-down on the surface. If there are waves, you can allow the waves to relax you even more (!) by keeping the body loose and de-contracting while allowing the water to move you in whichever which way, imagining you’re like a rag-doll or just a piece of seaweed just floating along on the surface of the water.
This relaxation breathing technique helps lower stress and anxiety by quickly slowing down the heart rate and helping the body settle in the present moment. A study in 2013 proved that freedivers had a significantly lower level of stress, anxiety and negative affectivity compared to non-freedivers. And I believe this is mostly due to relaxation breathing / training and lifestyle elements.
The relaxation breathing can also help you feel better overall. Not only can it help lower your stress, but it can also boost your mood, because during the breath-work, feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine and noradrenaline, are enhanced during the breathing exercise and also afterwards.
The relaxation breathing technique also helps increase your energy and focus your mind. So you’ll be able to focus better on your goals and have more energy to do the things you like.
Also because you’ll be using oxygen much more efficiently after doing this breathing, this also leads to better respiration, lower heart rate, increased blood flow to the vital organs and better overall health.
So even though you may have never thought about changing your relaxation breathing for freediving or to practice relaxation breathing in general, it’s time to give it a thought. Because the many benefits of this relaxation breathing exercise are super beneficial for your relaxation for freediving as well as for your physical and mental health in your everyday life.
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Please enjoy this transcript of this podcast episode. (Transcript is auto-generated and therefore not 100% exact)
So today what I want to talk about is a relaxation breathing technique which can help improve your relaxation for freediving and just in life in general!
This breathing technique is especially great for static apnea, or for relaxation on the surface before your freedives, or it can be used outside of the water just anytime you want to relax!
And the reason why I thought to talk about this, is because last week I was on the phone with my AWESOME friend Stephanie from Louisiana, Stephanie is a nurse practitioner who has a 5 month old little boy, so right now she’s juggling work life and baby and everything else, and therefore battling to get a good night’s rest since the baby wakes up a lot in the night.
Anyway Stephanie mentioned how she listened to my last podcast episode and she actually used the relaxation breathing technique that I briefly spoke about, when she wanted to fall back asleep after tending to the baby in the middle of the night
She only had a few hours before she had to wake up to go to work, so it was really helpful for her because it helped her fall asleep right away, and she was amazed at how quickly it slowed her heart rate down.
So I thought it would nice to go over the relaxation breathing technique in a bit more detail, and to do a few minutes guided session, because maybe it can help other people out there too! Freedivers and non-freedivers, so you have a relaxation breathing technique that you can do pretty much anywhere and anytime that you want to completely relax and de-stress.
But first the intro!
Hello and welcome to episode 7 of The Freediving Podcast, your source for information about training for freediving, not only so you can freedive better, but so you can live the most healthy and EPIC life possible!
I am your host, Renee Blundon, I’m a competitive freediver and a freediver instructor trainer living in Dahab. – And this podcast represents the efforts of my own personal research and my trial and error from my freediving training, as well as the combined efforts of a public open source information network which I invite you to join on Facebook at:
All are welcome!
So this relaxation breathing technique I learned a couple of years ago from Pascal Huron, who I’m pretty sure got it from Branko Petrovic, because I remember him calling it ‘The Branko Petrovic Technique’.
Pascal was coaching me remotely for some time to help me improve my mental relaxation on my freedives. I was battling with stress and anxiety during my deep dives, especially on the way up on some of dives, so he wanted me to use this breathing technique combined with an in-water training exercise which together would make my dives more relaxed, stress free and a lot more enjoyable.
So in this episode I’ll go over the breathing part and then in the next episode I’ll go over the in-water training exercise in case anyone would like to try!
So, as you know relaxation is absolute key for freediving, and also in general for living a healthy lifestyle!
In freediving the more relaxed you are on your dives, the less oxygen you consume, the less CO2 build-up, and so less lactic acid and the longer you can hold your breath!
And if you’re more relaxed on your dives, that means less stress, less anxiety, and less discomfort on your dives as well as less adrenaline, all things which destroy everything for freediving and the muscles for freediving.
You’ll also have more oxygen in the brain and more oxygen in the whole body. And overall your central nervous system will be more relaxed, which means faster recovery time!
So with all that said let’s dive right into the relaxation breathing technique, it’s a very simple exercise but it does take some practice first,
Now I’ll explain the steps and then we’ll do a session of it together!
1st step you want to inhale fully
Hold for a sec and relax everything
Then passive exhale, like a cig. puff
Then full exhale (don’t put your diaphragm up, keep it relaxed)
Hold for a second and relax everything
Then passive inhale – so just open the glottis, like you were surprised
Then full inhale, hold for a few seconds – relax
Passive exhale, full exhale, hold for a few seconds – relax
And you just continue in that way…
Regular inhale, hold / relax, passive exhale, full exhale, hold relax
So now we’re going to do a session of this relaxation breathing together. We’ll do 12 breaths of this and I’ll guide you through it, so you can just follow along.
Feel free to use a heart-rate monitor if you want to see the full effect. And keep in mind as you’re breathing in this way try to relax all the body and the mind, especially during the short holds at the top and at the bottom of the breathing.
You can close your eyes so long as your not driving or anything.
And one note, for the full exhale, don’t let the diaphragm go up, so no uddiyana bandha, try to keep the diaphragm relaxed during the entire exercise.
Ok so here we go!
And now relax.
So there you have it! The relaxation breathing technique, aka ‘The Branko Petrovic Technique’ which is used in freediving for the relaxation part of the breathe-up, so you can do a few minutes of this and then take 1-3 purge breaths and then start your dive or your breath-hold!
I’d recommend practicing the breathing outside of the water everyday for two weeks, like 12-20 breaths max, this way it becomes more of a habit so you don’t have to think about it so much, then it will be even more relaxing.
And then the water adds an even more relaxing effect, especially if you’re doing it laying face-down on the surface breathing through a snorkel, it’s really AMAZING!
It definitely helped me MASSIVELY to develop a deeper relaxation on my dives.
The only downside I found to this relaxation breathing technique, is that you can easily over-breathe with this, or hyperventilate. So thereby lowering the CO2 too much.
So just go easy with it, you can play with the timing doing longer or shorter inhales / exhales, holding at the top and bottom longer or shorter…
If you’re diving shallower than 70 meters, I wouldn’t worry, I just know I had some issues with hypoxia on the surface when I got to diving deeper than 70 meters. This I speak a lot about this in the last episode, so feel free to check that out if you want to know more about that and the adjustments that I made.
Otherwise I’d highly recommend this relaxation breathing technique for anyone who would like to improve their relaxation on their dives or their relaxation in general.
So that’s it for this episode! We went over the relaxation breathing technique which you also got to practice a bit. And you can use this way of breathing to help you relax and lower your heart-rate inside or outside the water!
Like I said just be careful not to get toooo carried away with it if you’re doing it for your freediving breathe-up, because it is a small form of hyperventilation, so just go easy.
And also make sure that you always have a buddy with you if you’re practicing it in the water before any time of freediving or breath-holding.
Stay tuned for the next episode where I’ll go over the in-water training exercise that goes along with this relaxation breathing technique, so that will bring it full circle.
It’s a super interesting freediving training aimed to retrain and reprogram your mind to have dives that are enjoyable and pleasurable the entire dive! And if done regularly and consistently over 2-4 weeks, it can eliminate the majority of stress and anxiety you experience your dives, even if you have contractions on your dives.
So stay tuned for that!
And don’t forget to join the Facebook group if you haven’t already! You can find it at https://www.facebook.com/groups/powerofthebreath. Recently I’ve been doing some LIVE dry freediving trainings on there, so def join even if you’re on lock-down and can’t go freediving
And lastly feel free to subscribe to my Friday 5 newsletter, it goes out almost every Friday. You can do that my going to the podcast page at reneeblundon.com/podcast
So thank you all for listening, hope you have a great day!