A Typical Freediving Lesson With Cara Heller
We recently sat down with Salt Life team member Cara Heller. Cara is living in the Quintana Roo region of Mexico near Tulum, working as a freediving instructor. Cara is passionate about freediving and ensuring that people learn to participate in the activity safely and responsibly.
Read on as we discuss what you can expect in a typical lesson with Cara.
What is Freediving?
Freediving is a form of underwater diving without tanks, in which participants must rely on proper breathwork and relaxation techniques to accomplish a successful dive using only the air in their lungs. Divers can gain this knowledge and understanding through instruction with experienced schools and instructors such as Cara.
Why Should I Take a Freediving Course?
In a one-day lesson, you will be given a condensed version of all the information that you would get in a full freediving course. Instructors will introduce technical content, but you will primarily focus on being relaxed and comfortable in the water.
Cara points out that the main purpose of the class is to create a space that lets divers know how to properly and safely breathe before and after a dive, how to equalize comfortably, and how to move around in the water effortlessly. That information will allow you to quickly enjoy freediving and access the underwater world in a serene but exciting way. You will build confidence in a structured space so that you can relax and have fun.
Who Can Take a Freediving Lesson?
Cara says it is a misconception that freediving is a very physical sport. If you have any interest in learning to freedive and you are able to swim, you should take a lesson.
Adults of all ages, shapes, sizes, and experience levels can comfortably freedive and learn to love the sport. It’s all about the energy and camaraderie of the day!
What to Expect From a Typical Free Diving Lesson
While a huge focus of freediving lessons is placed on safety, Cara has the practicalities of freediving broken down into the below sections.
In the dry portion of your lesson, you will learn and build trust with your instructor. You will discuss breathing techniques in depth to ensure that you can hold your breath safely and without stress.
Whilst your body is ready and capable of beginner-level freediving, this portion of your lesson will help you prepare your mind. You will be taught to breathe a certain way before your dive (the relaxation phase), and after your dive (the recovery phase), noting that hyperventilation is never used.
You will also learn the correct way to equalize your ears as you descend in the water, applying it much more often than scuba divers. Valsalva and Frenzel techniques both work, but Frenzel is better for freedivers!
The number 1 rule in freediving is to never dive alone! During your lesson, you will discuss how to stay safe during a freediving session. One of the key points is that you should always apply the ‘buddy system’, or the 1 up 1 down rule, to ensure that the diver holding their breath is being monitored by the diver on the surface.
And let’s not forget about how to keep the environment, such as fragile corals, safe from you, the chemicals on your skin, and your equipment.
This is the part you have been waiting for! You will take your equipment and knowledge to the ocean/lake/cenote and apply what you’ve learned. Guided closely by your instructor you will practice relaxed dives with good equalization and kicking techniques, using a buoy and vertical line as a reference.
This is where everything comes together and you will spend time underwater in a completely new way!
Thanks for this helpful information, Cara!
We can't wait to get down to Quintana Roo and take a freediving class with you!