Mammalian Dive Reflex Workshop (by Firdaus)

Mammalian Dive Reflex Workshop

The small town of Amed in Bali has been my main go-to place for depth training in freediving. I found out about this workshop from a friend who works at Apneista, a freediving school in Amed. The mammalian dive reflex ('MDR') causes physiological changes in the body to adapt to breath holding underwater. Being a science nerd and also a someone who has background in human physiology, I enrolled myself on the workshop.

The workshop was led by Frederic Lemaitre, a Professor of Physiology, who divides his time between academia, freediving and conducting research on freedivers. He has a strong passion for freediving and the physiology behind it. I was stoked to meet him!

The daily routine included a good mix of yoga, open water dives, theory lessons and meditation. We developed flexibility in our body, chest and lungs, through various yoga poses and stretches. The open water sessions were mainly to explore the sensations of freediving and being mindful of the dives - not only to think of what is ahead, but also to feel what is happening to the body during the dives.

Both theory and meditation portions were really intense! We covered a lot of freediving physiology using Fred's research and comparative MDR research between humans and animals, which were backed with graphs, statistics and MRI scans. We also learnt about neuroplasticity and mindfulness and how it can affect one’s life. The esoteric aspects of meditation and freediving really changed my perspective on freediving. These sessions were magical, as it was held at Blue Earth Village, atop a hill facing the majestic Mount Agung during sunset.

Overall, I would recommend this to any freediver who is interested in understanding the sciences behind freediving. There is still so much for me to learn in freediving, and this course made me realise my knowledge on freediving is still so little. Till the next adventure.