The first to introduce Yoga and Prāṇāyāma in free diving was Jacques Mayol, rising freediving as we know it today. He realized that Yoga and Prāṇāyāma could be tools not only useful for the technique, but also for the mental approach to safely and deeply descent into the abysses of the sea. There are very good reasons why these practices have been considered helpful to divers both physiologically and mindfully. They help to make body, breath and mind more stable, efficient and focused.
Physical āsana (posture) gives strength, flexibility and health. Thanks to āsana and prāṇāyāma practice, our muscles become more efficient, we tend to have less wasteful movement in water, less carbon dioxide production, longer bottom time and higher-longer comfort zone underwater. They help to develop core strength for good diving technique, increase thoracic flexibility to better prepare to the pressure of deeper dives. Moreover the practice of āsana helps to develop a deeper body awareness and proprioception to increase our control over the nervous system. This helps divers to maintain calm and control even in challenging situations.
Prāṇāyāma increases subtle awareness such as āsana, it develops a deeper body awareness and proprioception focused on breathing and energetic processes. It helps increase breath awareness and control, it develops confidence and relaxation in the water. Thanks to the practice of prāṇāyāma we can increase awareness of our breathing and benefit, from multiple positive effects: more elastic muscles, better efficiency in oxygen consumption, better management of the air reserve, better buoyancy, increase in concentration, relaxation of mind and body.
Diving has a huge mental aspect even if often is taken for granted. The ability to relax is a key issue for the wellness during a dive which becomes also safer, more enjoyable and longer. Meditation, mindfulness and visualization training help divers to take their training to an higher level to become more confident. Modern neuroscience actually validates Yoga practice by sometimes matching its statements.