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Mastering the Art of Underwater Breathing While Diving

Underwater breathing is about balancing the mind, body, and the ocean itself. Knowing how to breathe well is knowing how to dive well. Let us teach you!

Breathing is that cycle that starts with a sigh and ends by releasing CO2. Considering we do this 21,000 times a day, one might say, “Yes, you know how to breathe.” But, do you know how to breathe underwater?

Let me ask you a question. Be honest. How do you breathe? Or rather, let me rephrase, do you live in a constant state of stress?

When we relax, our breathing rhythm becomes slow and deep. But oh, when stress hits us! Our breathing becomes a kind of shallow marathon. These breathing habits don’t oxygenate us properly, which stresses us out even more.

Our minds, at times, are stress and worry factories. And underwater, those bad breathing habits become even more apparent.

They say a good breath is a balm for stress. To breathe underwater while diving, you have to breathe well. Conclusion: diving relieves stress.

Great! Let’s learn to breathe properly underwater.

Underwater Breathing (2) respiración bajo el agua

1. Underwater Breathing Apparatus


1.1. Underwater Breathing Apparatus for Shallow Immersions

Snorkel: The magical tube! It lets you breathe while your face is submerged underwater. But, don’t get too excited; it’s not for the deepest parts of the ocean. Then there are those snorkel masks, basically a more elaborate version of the tube mechanism, covering your entire face with a transparent screen.


1.2. What Do Divers Use to Breathe Underwater?

SCUBA Gear (Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus): This is probably the most well-known apparatus for breathing underwater. SCUBA gear includes a compressed air tank that the diver carries on their back and a regulator that allows the diver to inhale air from the tank. The air in the tank is a mix of oxygen and other gases, and the amount of compressed air in the tank determines how long the diver can stay underwater.

Rebreathers: These advanced devices reuse your exhaled air, give it a magical twist (using a chemical compound that reacts with CO2, absorbing it), and give it back to you fresh for reuse. Rebreathers allow divers to stay underwater for longer durations than traditional SCUBA equipment.


1.3. The Difference Between a Scuba Diver and a Submariner Lies in the Underwater Breathing Apparatus They Use

Surface-Supplied Diving Helmet: This type of diving helmet is primarily used for professional underwater work. Air is supplied from the surface through a tube, and the diver can breathe normally inside the helmet.

Atmospheric Diving Suits: Well, these aren’t exactly underwater breathing apparatus; they’re more like submarines in the form of a suit! They maintain surface-like pressure inside.

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2. Learning to Breathe Underwater for Better Diving


2.1. Why Proper Breathing During Diving Is Important

Breathing is key, whether on land or beneath the waves. Breathing underwater is not just about survival; it’s about maintaining calm and balance. And you know what? Diving teaches us a life lesson in that.

When we’re in the water, our bodies move up and down just by breathing. It affects buoyancy to that extent! Taking a deep breath underwater when you’re not supposed to can unexpectedly take you upwards, and that’s not as fun as it sounds. Rapid breathing stresses you out, and stress makes you use more air. But when you breathe well… When you breathe well underwater, you can see your worries ascending in the bubbles you exhale!

The fact is, with your underwater breathing, you’ll:

  • Influence your air consumption.
  • Control buoyancy.


2.2. The Basics of Diving

When breathing underwater, everything seems to flow. It’s effortless; air flows in, filling your mouthpiece with a feeling of abundance. If it doesn’t, something’s off. That’s why it’s crucial to check that the SCUBA gear functions properly before submerging and that the tank is charged and open. Also, regularly check the regulator during the dive to see how much air you have left.


2.3. First Rule: Never Stop Breathing

Underwater breathing is like a conscious dance, an uninterrupted, smooth and continuous experience. Maintaining that steady flow isn’t just for safety but also for air efficiency. We explain this in the article ” 10 Scuba Tech Tips to Improve Your Diving Air Consumption”.


2.4. Second Rule: Breathe Slow and Deep

This breathing style is a wonder for optimizing your air consumption. Gas exchange becomes more efficient when you exhale air slowly. Our bodies and minds thrive on constant oxygen to stay in good shape. And believe me, balancing inhalations and exhalations will give you control in the water and the serenity you need. Besides, that slow, deep breathing is like a balm for the soul.

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3. Underwater Breathing Techniques for Diving


3.1. Principles Underlying Underwater Breathing Techniques

First, CO2 is the key player here. We need to eliminate it at the same rate it’s produced. If we don’t, our brain will tell our lungs to speed up and breathe faster. The goal is to have as little CO2 in our body as possible.

Second, maximize oxygen in the blood without breaking a sweat. The problem is, that as pressure rises, we consume more air and need more effort to breathe. Controlling the pace and breathing slow and deep is the play to avoid getting tired.


3.2. How Do We Train for Underwater Breathing?

With These Techniques.

Slow Diaphragmatic or Abdominal Breathing

This underwater breathing technique involves using the diaphragm instead of the chest muscles. Using the diaphragm brings air to the lower third of the lungs, increasing gas exchange. It’s like putting gasoline directly into the engine.

This technique takes air to the most efficient corners of our lungs, and we won’t need as much air to oxygenate our body correctly. Plus, you’ll save air like a champion. Curious, right? Psychologists teach it to calm anxiety, reduce heart rate, and relax. Less stress, less CO2 to expel.

Practice on the surface for underwater breathing:

  1. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen.
  2. Count: 1, 2, inhale, and notice how the hand on your abdomen rises, but make sure the hand on your chest doesn’t move.
  3. Now, breathe out in 4 counts: 1, 2, 3, 4, and feel your abdomen sink.


Breathing techniques practiced in yoga also have their tricks. They teach how to make the most of your lungs and reduce stress both underwater and on the surface.

Apnea breathing techniques help us breathe slower and deeper, expanding the lungs. Want to know them? We cover them in the article ” Freediving Breathing Techniques or How to Increase Lung Capacity for Diving

So, there you have it! To breathe underwater, do it deeply, relax, and get ready to explore a universe that will leave you breathless and fill your life with unforgettable experiences. Dive in; the ocean awaits!