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Old 10-22-2015   #1
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 149
Applications of Breath-holding from Free Diving to Kayaking

One of the things I've considered as I've trained as a kayaker is that I'd really like to be able to hold my breath for a long long time.

I thought this article about free diving was very interesting and informative:

Free Divers Are Rewriting the Physiology of the Body‚€”Underwater

While the stuff about water pressure is super interesting but obviously doesn't apply to our sport, I thought the insights into breath-holding were very interesting. I assume that with many drownings, water is "breathed" before unconsciousness is reached. I wonder if, with a little training, perspective, and zen we couldn't go a lot lot longer without breath while waiting for that hole to flush or that rope to come.
Prinsloo was waiting for me on the shore of Crystal River in Florida, a lush nature reserve on the Gulf of Mexico. She now runs a nonprofit conservation group, I Am Water, and was gathering documentary footage on manatees, which congregate in the area’s naturally warm springs during the cold winter months. She had suggested I join her and insisted she could teach me to hold my breath like a free diver in one lesson.

As the sun ascended, we hopped in sea kayaks, paddled down the river for half a mile, tied them up the shore, and splashed into the water. I duck-dived beneath the surface and followed Prinsloo to a 10-foot-long manatee with its paddle-like flippers, elephantine skin, and cow-like snout. It regarded us passively through small button eyes as we all floated several feet beneath the surface together in silence, slowly bobbing in silence with rhythm of the gentle, morning tide. As I surfaced, panting for air, I watched Prinsloo stay underwater with perfect calm. Clearly I had a lot to learn.

Prinsloo and I paddled back to shore and found a quiet spot on a grassy knoll. Kneeling in front of me, she told me to lie down and close my eyes. “Breath deep, slow down, realize that we tell ourselves stories, and tell yourself a good one,” she said. She then led me through three breath-holds, promising that by the third one I would be amazed by how long I could hold my breath.

The first breath was the “feel-good breath-hold.” She asked me to relax, hold my breath in a state of near sleep, and wait until I felt a “trigger” that snapped me back to something approaching awareness and signaled the nonverbal version of, “What the hell? This is too long. You need to breathe!”

For the second breath-hold, Prinsloo instructed me to go beyond this “trigger point” and continue to hold my breath until my diaphragm started to contract. Finally we reached the third hold. For this one, Prinsloo instructed me to observe the trigger, but keep holding, to feel the contraction, and press on.

“Let the contractions come and go,” she advised me. “They don’t go away, they don’t get any better, they just are, so you just try to keep relaxing and let whatever happens happen. Just let them move. It’s almost like a wave when they start coming.”

I placed my hand on my stomach, and continued to hold my breath. It wasn’t so bad. In fact, I felt a stillness, time seemed to stop. For a few moments, I was profoundly aware of the world around me. The splashing from a distant pool, the sound of people chattering as they walked nearby, the sun on my face. Then I could hold my breath no longer.

After I exhaled, Prinsloo revealed my times and they shocked me. My first breath hold lasted for 1 minute 45 seconds. My second was for 2 minutes and 50 seconds. On my third attempt, I held my breath for almost 3 minutes and 45 seconds. I had more than doubled my time by following Prinsloo’s simple instructions.

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Old 10-23-2015   #2
San Jose, CA, California
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 433
That is awesome!

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Old 10-23-2015   #3
Preacher of the Profit Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,062
I think you are confused.

Holding your breath is very much part of "Our" sport. Many whitewater kayakers are still avid squirt boaters. Where exercise, kayaking, and breath management are very much all in play. Check it out:
I love to dance, but who needs the music- It throws me off.
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Old 10-26-2015   #4
Carbondale, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1965
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 176
When I was young I practiced holding my breath a lot - mostly just because I was bored in school etc. Got to where I could go three minutes. I can point to several instances where this ability came into play and perhaps saved my life but for sure gave me the confidence not to panic and just let the river flush me out of a bad situation knowing that I had a lot of time left. The other part of the equation is knowing when to fight and when to relax.
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Old 10-26-2015   #5
k2andcannoli's Avatar
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 657
Rock running is a way surfers develop their breath holding abilities. It's one thing to remain motionless and hold your breath it another to hold your breath while exerting yourself physically.

Squirt boaters call themselves zombies because a long day of cold water and deep mystery moves makes your body number, tingling, slow, and a bit disembodied
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Old 10-28-2015   #6
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2011
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 26
There are many apnea training apps for both android and iPhone. It is a proven methodology for expanding lung capacity.

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Old 10-28-2015   #7
Preacher of the Profit Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,062

That's not why squirt boaters call themselves zombies. It's because of them coming up from under water. Just like a zombie coming out of the ground.
I love to dance, but who needs the music- It throws me off.
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Old 10-28-2015   #8
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Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 657
Don, It appears we are both correct.

"Practitioners are sometimes called zombies because they go in druid-like circles all day pursuing bubbles and become entranced by sparkly water and metalflake- and they don’t walk so well because their feet have been cramped in a boat hardly bigger than a ballerina slipper. " - Jim Snyder

I've seen him write elsewhere that the hyperventilating and then long periods of breath holding make you become numb, like your extremities are dead.

The Lure of the Realm | RivrStyx by Jim Snyder

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