..overcome your open water fears
Hang on… before you ditch this blog. Before you say ‘no way Josie’, I’m no triathlete, nope, not a chance…why would I want to do that? Hear me out.
Ask yourself first my yogi friends, do you love to exercise and stay active? Great, me too. It makes me feel better physically and mentally. Simple. But did you know the setting you exercise in can add on extra benefits?
Water and “blue” space helps us relax and can potentially give us more of a mental boost than slogging it out in the gym, or at home where we’re dodging distractions and sensory stimuli. You know – your phone, TV, music, apps etc.
Being around water gives our brains a break
I love the open water. In it, out of it, beside it, on it. And guess what. There’s a reason many of us feel that way. Intuitively we get that being around water gives our brains a break.
When we’re near the water, under the water, we get a cognitive rest. We find a sense of calm and clarity. We know intuitively and instinctively that being in and around the blue stuff makes us feel great and it’s also a very real thing scientifically.
In the book Blue Mind, by Wallace J. Nichols, he talks about the science that shows that being around water can make you happier, healthier, more connected and better at what you do.
So my yogis-in-training out there, what I’m saying is, don’t under estimate how much being near (or in) the water while you exercise can impact everything from your level of stress to your creativity, clarity, sense of connection and ability to rest/sleep.
My personal favourite water haunt is Box End Park. Next week, April 1, the lakes will be open for swimming. If you are new to swimming in lakes, I can recommend a great coach, Gavin Prior, of Tri.Somi
I also invite you to dig into these 3 top yogi tools to get you over any first-time open water fears.
Go on, dive in…it might be cold, but it’s also exhilarating.
3 Yogi-in-Training Tips
- Learn how to breathe.
Ok, your body usually takes care of this for you. We all have an autonomic nervous system running the show, phew… However, open water swimming can be breath-taking – in more ways than one. It’s cold out there, especially early season, and as soon as your face hits the water chances are you’ll struggle for breath. Trouble with that is your short, rapid, shallow and noisy breath can shift you to a state of stress, anxiety and panic and can soon have you scrambling for the shoreline. The good news is you can, to some degree, control your breathing and learn good technique.
- Practice regularly.
A healthy breathing rhythm is deep, full, quiet and regular. To improve your breathing rhythm in the water, focus on slowing down your breathing rhythm every day on land. Frequency is key, so make a daily date with your breath and remember, work on breathing less. Try checking in with your breathing early in the morning, before you go to bed or maybe catch yourself in the car at the lights, waiting for a train or cooking the dinner.
- Take a yoga class.
Swimmers need access to a full range of breath patterns to cope with the changing demands of the water. You may not always be able to breath to one side if you have splashing swimmers or waves coming at you from the side. In a yoga class you get to learn pranayama, the fourth limb of the yoga tree, which teaches us all how to control the breath rather than be controlled by the need to breathe. All pranayama techniques yield great benefit for swimmers – improving lung capacity, calming the central nervous system, reducing anxiety and reducing fatigue to name a few. Go yoga!
As always enjoy the practice yogis… hoping it serves.
Q: Heading out for the open water for a swim this weekend? Anyone want to share their open water fears and how they work through them? Let’s give some encouragement to anyone tempted to put their first toe in the water. Comment below or head on over to join the conversation on Facebook @yogalocal or Twitter @yogalocaluk