What Scuba Diving Taught Me About Life and Yoga
About 18 months ago I received my diving certification in Costa Rica through CMAS and it was an absolutely life changing journey. I had wanted to learn how to dive for a long time but fear had held me back. That was, until April 2017 when I finally said YES to taking the plunge. (Literally and figuratively!)
About 4 years ago while in Thailand I signed up for a Discovery Dive on the island of Koh Tao and had an incredible time. With a discovery dive, the instructor takes you about 30 feet deep and offers a lot of personal attention. It's a great way to assess if becoming certified is something you want to do and so I signed up. I was pretty terrified but had always wanted to explore underwater.
I ended up having an incredible time and so from that point on, I knew I wanted to become certified.
Last year, I was in Costa Rica for almost a month and during that time felt called to sign up. I hesitantly reserved my spot - terrified - but knowing that it would be a life changing experience for me.
For the first few dives, my two instructors and I dove in a saltwater pool in Costa Rica. They taught me how to set up my equipment and then we began. I remember on day one deflating my vest and slowly sinking to the bottom of the pool with 13 lbs of weight attached to my waist. It was in this moment that I thought "Cassandra! What the hell are you doing?!?! You literally just sunk yourself and now you're at the bottom of the pool! You're going to DIE!"
Dramatic, I know.
So I panicked and sprung up to the service.
Fortunately, my guides were very patient with me and reminded me that while that isn't detrimental to do at 6 feet of water, springing up like that could hurt you at more than 15 feet. They were kind yet stern with me and we started again.
When I was comfortable in the pool and all of the exercises they put me through (taking off your mask underwater and then putting it back on and clearing it, letting go of your regulator and then finding it again and clearing it to resume breathing, taking off the weight belt and putting it back on without floating back to the surface, etc.) we were then ready for the good ol' ocean!
We did a few dives from the beach so with a 50 lb tank on my back I slowly waded into the surf and fought the waves. After getting beyond the tide break, we prepared to dive. It was surreal sinking myself to the ocean floor and I again questioned why I was paying to do this. Haha. We stayed around a depth of 30-45 feet on the beach dives and it was within this space that I began to learn deeper lessons in life.
When you are 30+ feet underwater, it would be incredibly unwise to go straight up to the surface. (If you did panic and need to go up, it would need to be done slowly and with control) So here, skimming the ocean floor I began to tune into my yoga practice.
Panic would surface every few minutes as I tried to breathe fluidly through the regulator (if you've never gone diving, you are breathing exclusively out of your mouth in a very interesting manor and it can be difficult to get used to at first) and it was here that I realized that truly the only thing I could do in this moment... was breathe.
I couldn't go up to the surface right now and had to learn to simply trust in my regulator and take full, deep breaths. That's it. There was no other option. To freak out and panic would put not only myself at risk but also my instructors and that wasn't something I wanted to do.
Through this experience, I realized that the simple act of breathing was perhaps the most powerful tool we have in this human experience. When life becomes chaotic, scary or even painful, we can choose to remember our breath and surrender to the process.
To lose our breath is to lose our ability to surrender.
On our next dive, we jumped out of the boat and dove nearly 65 feet. Here again I had the opportunity to tune into my breath. This was where I finally found the blissful state. To move through the ocean like you are flying is such a liberating experience. I had finally overcome fear by simply breathing and that was a profound realization for me. I had finally surrendered that I was safe and this allowed me to be at peace.
I have weaved this wisdom into my life above water and so when things get hard or stressful, I try to remember to just breathe. Sometimes, there is nothing else that can be done besides this simple practice.
When life feels intense or chaotic, remember your breath. Trust in your breath and let it guide you back to the surface. That is all any of us can do.
If you are looking to get your diving training in Costa Rica, I highly recommend doing it through Anamaya Resort. Michel and David are incredible instructors and I dive with them every time I go back to Costa Rica! They are also more affordable than most diving trainings.
Do you love to dive? Are you wanting to get certified? Comment below!