Yogi Warrior: Mindful Sea Swimming

Sea swimming can be exhilarating, scary, awesome and rather chilly at times. Emotions, thoughts and sensations can flood our experience, sometimes affecting our stroke and even our mood, turning what starts out to be a delightful swim into one that is not going our way. With a shift in attention swimming can transform from an autopilot must get my distance/lap done to an attentive mindful movement practice. How?

Begin each swim with an intention to be fully present in the water rather than to just get laps/distance in.

Take a few moments to notice if there is any tension in your body. Take a few slow deep exhales, soften your jaw, eyes, maybe shake the shoulders to loosen off tension, bounce on your heals in the sand, and shake off any excess holding or bracing from your body. Explore doing this before taking your first steps into the sea.

As you take your first steps notice how the temperature of the sea can affect your breath, body and thoughts, and so consciously soften any tension, and begin to regulate your breath.

As you begin swimming, focus on each stroke. Notice the feeling of the sea on your skin.

Bring attention to your breathing. As you breathe, shift your focus from a stroke rhythm to a breathing rhythm, noticing the unbroken alternation of in-breaths and out-breaths. How does your body move to this rhythm?

Align head and spine, and get long in your neck. Visualize being towed forward by a line attached to the top of your head, so your head and spine are both lengthening and always moving in the direction you want to travel.

As you continue with your strokes, focus on the feeling of your arms entering and leaving the water. Feel they way your body rocks from side to side.

Listen to the sounds of swimming. Hear the splashes, the bubbles and your own breath. Notice the rhythm between these sounds and your breath. Steady your attention with this rhythm.

Notice how your mind can be drawn away to thoughts of planning, judgement or in my case, fearful thoughts, and acknowledge these and come back to sensations, breath and rhythm. Moment by moment immerse yourself in the flurry of sensations.

Maybe at times pause your swim, tread water, take in your surroundings, sounds, sights, your breath, the feel of your legs waving in the sea beneath you, simply ‘be’ with the sea. Then continue again.

As you complete your swim, take a moment to be grateful for your ability to merge mind and body with nature.

Inspired by a love of sea swimming and Terry Laughlin, founder of Total Immersion Swimming.

 

Happy Swimming