Last updated on November 25, 2023
Do you know the power of breath? If you meditate, practice yoga, tai chi or qigong, then you know what I mean.
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My diving and apnea days were a while ago, but I remember how fascinated I was by breathing exercises.
For me it was never about depth records, but about the wonderful feeling of being able to dive freely and carefree into the blue-green world without feeling like a technically overloaded foreign body.
How wonderful to glide through the kelp forest swaying in the swell without scaring the fish away with my bubbling. And how wonderful to be able to look at a sea anemone colony or a lobster in the cliffs for a moment and to be able to postpone the oppressive – but vital – feeling of shortness of breath a bit.
Diving into the wonderful colorful and lively underwater world without any worries – that is freedom in action!
And why this could be a good idea for you, and why Ireland is much better suited for this than you might think, you can find out here:
What’s in favor of apnea or freediving?
Proper breathing not only gets you further underwater, but also fills all the cells of your body with oxygen and supports all metabolic processes. Oxygen makes you healthy!
In addition, a good amount of oxygen helps your brain – you become more alert, more active, more interested and more optimistic.
So breathing correctly makes you really healthy!
Oxygen supports a clear mind and a healthy body. Which is closely related – the ancient Greeks already knew that: “In a healthy body lives a healthy mind”. Old saying, but more topical than ever.
Because most of us are far from this blissful state at the beginning of our well-deserved annual vacation. The stuffy office is hardly aired for the whole year, the body, which is actually made for walking upright, is hunched and tense in front of the PC and the mind is stressed beyond measure by permanent pressure, a million pointless emails and a hundred thousand endless meetings in stuffy meeting rooms.
“Yes it does, but what does that have to do with free diving?”
Quite simply, before you can free dive, you have to learn to control your breath. You learn to breathe properly, namely deep and relaxed into your abdominal cavity, instead of just panting shallowly into your upper chest, which we do way too much. In doing so, your lungs fill up properly, even the “back room” is well ventilated.
At the same time your stress level decreases, your pulse rate decreases, your nerves calm down, your fears fade into the background and only then you are ready to enter the green-blue world.
You take the effect with you into your private and professional life: Correct breathing helps to reduce stress and to get rid of the accumulated cortisols in your body. Your constantly stressed body will return to normal and your blood pressure will return to normal.
You hold your breath for free diving, which at first seems contradictory to healthy breathing, but that’s only a few minutes a day.
“Yeah, but I already do that in yoga, so why dive?”
Because you like to swim, snorkel, or dive, because you like to visit colorful fish and all kinds of marine_ life in their natural environment, and because you want to experience something on vacation that you don’t do at home?
Especially the latter really gets you ahead – get out of the routine, experience something new! It’s good for your soul. And because swimming is healthy, it’s also good for your body.
To direct your attention to a nice goal – relaxed, but also focused, helps to clear your head.
Under water I always felt in another world, in a fascinating world. There, among the fish, for some time the world up there and its small and big worries were no longer so important.
Why is Ireland a good destination to learn or practice freediving?
Most people will think of the Maldives or other warm climates when it comes to freediving. This is not wrong at all. But there are also good reasons to travel to Ireland for freediving:
Ireland has beautiful landscapes, especially spectacular coasts. High cliffs alternate with white sandy beaches. There are miles of sandy beaches that are great for swimming.
But there are also many small beaches hidden between the cliffs in Ireland. These are often the most beautiful beaches for snorkeling and free diving, because because you have sandy bottom and rocky cliffs together, the underwater life is the most diverse and beautiful here.
Ireland is an island that is quite exposed in the Atlantic Ocean. The foothills of the Gulf Stream provide mild water temperatures and bring lots of marine life. The water on the Irish coasts is therefore very clean, clear and rich in fish.
It is not difficult to discover many small and big fish, sea anemones, shells and crustaceans while snorkeling or free diving. Sometimes a small cat shark flees from you into the dense kelp, sometimes a curious seal peeks over.
You can also watch dolphins and whales off the coast and there are several providers of boat tours, especially on the south and southwest coast.
Even the drive to the coast is a pleasure: you drive through green and hilly landscapes with walls, hedges, old castle and monastery ruins and colorful towns, past horses, cows and sheep, sheep, sheep… it’s like counting sheep to fall asleep, very relaxing!
The Irish are also a very friendly people – wherever you go, they are happy to help you. A chat here, a few kind words there – just nice.
In the plush B&B you will be lovingly cooked and in the evening in the pub it is just fun and cozy. No mass tourism.
It’s easy to feel at home here because the Irish are so relaxed and friendly. You notice this also in the traffic, because honking, hectic overtaking and close passing are rather rare here. Especially in the countryside, where there is very little traffic anyway. There is sometimes a herd of sheep on the road, or a few cows, two tractor drivers chat in the middle of the road before they wave you friendly past to then chat with you too.
We felt so comfortable here that we settled down: My family and I have traveled Ireland many times over the years, then at some point bought a vacation home, and for the past few years we have had our second home here, where I run a motorcycle rental business during the summer months (see www.easycruiser.tours). We also have nice guest rooms (www.the-view-accommodation.ie). So we know the country and the people for a very long time.
But back to freediving:
What is the best way to learn how to freedive?
I can only recommend to learn the right breathing technique, the right descent and the freediving itself with a professional.
Then you learn it right away and it is also fun. If there are two of you, all the better, otherwise just take a few lessons with a freediving instructor.
This also has safety reasons: If you hold your breath too long, you can pass out briefly. Mostly while surfacing. On land this might not be a big problem, but under water it can be life threatening.
Therefore, you should slowly approach the depths and times and always be in pairs to be able to secure each other.
What if you want to dive alone later? Not ideal, but I have done this myself for a long time. You can certainly freedive alone if you stay well within your limits – then it’s more like extended snorkeling, but that’s fine. But for that you have to learn your limits first and that brings us back to the lessons:
Here’s where you can take freediving lessons in Ireland:
By the way, the best time to go freediving in Ireland is later summer and early fall. That’s when the water is warmest.
By the way, the weather is much less of a problem in Ireland than many think. The summer is usually very pleasant and with 20-25 degrees temperature nice and warm, but rarely hot. In late summer you can still expect about 20 degrees Celsius. Of course, there can be a shower, just like on the German coasts. But that’s no problem if you get into the water anyway.
Many people think about free diving, but not necessarily about Ireland. I hope I could make you curious – about freediving and about Ireland!
If you like to be in the water, if you like to do something new, if you want to get to know a beautiful island with nice people, then come to Ireland – for freediving of course!
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Cover photo credit: photo by Michael Worden on Unsplash