Category Archives: Yoga

Freediving training February!

I’m in my final month in Korea and I’ve just started prep for the next step in my freediving journey. I’m aiming to become an instructor in March so I have to get back to my August form so that everything will be easy.

While I was stuck on a gondola ride at High 1, I came across this amazing video about Frenzel and equalization. I don’t really have an issue with Frenzel. My main problem is swallowing my air so I’d like to nip that annoying habit in the bud within the 1st few days of training in Cebu.

Since my two main goals for instructors will be to dive to 40m and achieve a static apnea time of 4:00 minutes, I decided to attend a very special templestay in Korea.  I needed a temple that puts a strong emphasis on meditation.

Golgulsa Temple is situated in Gyeongju, about 34km from Pohang.  “Golgulsa” literally means “Stone Buddha Temple” and it’s home to a 4m large Buddha carved into Mt. Hamwol, sometime between the 7th and 9th century.

Golgulsa is also famous for a form of martial art that was originally practised only by monks. Sunmudo means ““the way of doing meditative martial arts”.  It’s a unique combination of meditation, yoga and martial art. You can read more about the fascinating history of Sunmudo here.

I arrived on Saturday and had 3 meditation practices under the belt by the time I left the following day. I found it very helpful to have a refresher on what to focus on when meditating. Essentially, breathing and relaxation are intrinsically linked. It’s about acknowledging a distracting thought but letting it pass through as you return to breath. I also found moving meditation a really enjoyable activity. I’m hoping to use meditation and yoga not only for getting a good breathe-up but also to help me deal with contractions better. My training mantra is “contractions are your friend”. I hope that if I repeat this enough I’ll actually start believing it instead of being distracted by the discomfort.

Trying out Sunmudo is part of the templestay experience and it’s amazing how exercises that only use balance and bodyweight can cause such high lactic acid levels in your muscles! I thought I was relatively fit but I guess the training session targeted muscles that are not used too much in cycling and snowboarding. Two days later and I’m still stiff hahaha!

I met grand master Jeog Un Sunim during Sunday’s tea ceremony and I had a question for him (which has nothing to do with martial art, meditation or freediving). I noticed there was a statue of a Jindo dog next to a small, fat-bellied smiling Buddha on the temple grounds. When I asked him about it, he told me that he had a dog for 20 years and that she was like a daughter to him. After her death 5 years ago, he decided to honour her memory by erecting the statue on the temple grounds. She lives in through her daughter, who was happily snoring away in a corner while we were doing our 5AM meditation session.

There’s a lot we can learn from Buddhism and apply to freediving. Other than mediation and knowing the importance of breath and living mindfully (living in the now), it also teaches us not to attach to anything (other than the line of course. ALWAYS be attached to the line). Don’t attach to failure, don’t attach to nerves or negative feelings. Acknowledge that failure is part of the learning and growing process. Be aware of your body and your breath. Be aware of how your thoughts are impacting your training and performance. Be aware of where you tense up when you start stressing or when you feel discomfort (for me it’s my neck). Be grateful for your health and the beauty of the ocean.

By knowing yourself you can strive beyond your limits. This takes time, training and patience. I’d say the end result is worth it though 🙂

* You can find other useful articles about freediving here.

 

 

 

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30 day yoga challenge

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I started a 30 day yoga challenge today. I reckon the practise will not only strengthen me mentally and physically, but also linguistically! My teacher was very good at physically correcting my poses, but if I can overcome the language barrier I will be able to immerse deeper into the class instead of looking up and around every now and again to see what everyone else is doing.  I did a quick search for Korean yoga vocab on google but nothing so far.

Tonight I learnt left (왼쪽= oenjjog but sounds like wenchok) and right (오른쪽= oleunjjog sounds like oreunchok), 90 (gu ship) as in degree angle,  inhale (들이마시다 = deulimashida) and exhale (내쉬다= nesuida).

I went to a healing yoga class at 9PM with only 9 people (including 1 guy). I was surprised that we faced away from the mirrors. In London, when I practiced bikram yoga, almost everything was done facing the mirror so that you could keep aligned.It was also a first for me to use props: we used blocks and a belt to help us stretch.

Healing yoga is so different to Bikram, which focuses on a series of 24 poses always done in the same sequence. Healing yoga can be any combination of yoga positions. Fear not, it might not be hot yoga but I got some good, deep stretches in. Tomorrow’s going to hurt a bit!

Late night yoga is a great way to unwind and get ready for bed. I’m fortunate that the studio is a 10 minute walk/ 5 minute cycle from my new apartment so I don’t have to lose the yoga afterglow on public transport (maybe a little bit on crazy Korean drivers though!).

I’ll be back tomorrow morning at 10:30 AM to wake up my lactic acid infested muscles with a little bit of vinyasa yoga. I’ve decided that on the days that the studio is closed I will go to the beach and do a sesh on the sand. I’m really looking forward to my weekend mornings now!

Namaste (나마스테)  x

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