How To Breathe Underwater – Breathing Tips for Scuba Divers

Last Updated: November 29, 2023

One of the most important things to remember when learning scuba diving is breathing properly under the water.

That may not seem like a big deal, especially because most beginners think that breathing underwater will be the same as breathing above the water. It is a common misconception that oxygen tanks make diving easy.

This is not true in most cases. Professional scuba divers are used to breathing underwater easily, but you should be a little careful if you are a beginner. It might be challenging at first, but if you learn the proper techniques, you can easily master them.

In this article, you will learn about the various techniques to breathe with ease while scuba diving. You will also find a few tips and tricks that you can use to master the art of underwater breathing.

How Can You Improve Your Breathing Underwater?

Breathing while scuba diving might be a challenge if you are a beginner. However, there are various techniques that you can learn and master to overcome this problem.

One thing to always keep in mind is that each person has their own breathing capacity. That majorly depends on the size of your lungs. The bigger your lungs, the more easily you will be able to breathe.

Breathing Techniques for Scuba Divers

The following techniques can boost your breathing skills. Each of these requires a lot of patience and practice. Over time, you will get to know and understand how you can manage your breath when diving.

Freediving Technique

Freediving is one of the most common techniques used by divers today.

Freediving is a technique that will help you develop better breathing habits that will prove to be beneficial while diving. It will also help you get in touch with the various senses of your body while underwater. Listening to these body signals will help you get better control over your breathing.

Besides that, free diving also helps teach you how to slow down your breathing when your oxygen supply is almost over. In this case, free divers tend to act more calmly, which also helps in saving oxygen.

Freedivers are also known to handle the pressure of the water well while in great depths.


By yoga, we mean the breathing exercises in yoga. Yoga is known to help improve and control your breathing patterns. It also teaches us how to expand our lungs, stomach, and chest fully to make the most out of breathing.

If you learn how to use these organs, you will find it much easier to inhale and exhale while diving.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

This technique involves using the diaphragm to transfer oxygen to the lower part of our lungs. That might sound strange, but when we are on land, our breathing is mostly shallow. That is because we do not make full use of our lungs.

Related: What is a Diaphragm Regulator?

However, it is essential to remember to use the entire lung capacity for using the oxygen effectively. By breathing from the diaphragm, you won’t have to inhale a large amount of air to provide the cells with oxygen. This way, you’ll be making the optimal use of the oxygen in your tank.

Skip Breathing

Skip breathing is a technique practiced by divers, and it involves holding the breath for a short period in between inhalation and exhalation. In theory, skip breathing can cause a lot of complications.

However, many divers often practice this technique. Why? Let’s take a look.

To Save Air

It is a technique that scuba divers apply to save air. Professional divers understand the importance of conserving air while underwater. They are used to taking quick, short breaths.

To Get Better Control Over Buoyancy

Every diver knows the importance of maintaining and controlling their buoyancy. One way to get better control over this is by practicing breath control. That is very natural; however, it is important to remember that breath control and breath holding are two very different practices.

Keep in mind to not get confused between these two. Instead of focusing more on holding your breath, adapt and practice to get better control over it.

Unconscious Breathing

Another reason why most people have the bad habit to skip breath is due to the subconscious mind. Most of the time, when we do skip breath, we may not even realize it.

However, habits adapted by the unconscious mind are hard to break. It is important to stay aware of when you are doing skip breathing and avoid it from developing into a dangerous habit.

When it comes to diving, a slow, controlled breathing pattern is best recommended. Most divers recommend people to practice controlled breathing instead of skipping breath. This technique is much safer and proves to be more beneficial even while swimming under the water.

Can You Breathe Through The Nose When Scuba Diving?

cannot breath through nose when diving

The short answer is no. You cannot breathe through your nose while scuba diving. Because you need to use a mask.

When you put on a scuba mask, it helps to protect your eyes and nose and it completely seals them. That makes it impossible for water to enter your nose.

If you want to equalize your ears, you can always use the flexible straps on the nose and pinch them gently.

Every dive mask has been designed in a way to keep the nose protected from the water. That is because of two major reasons.

  1. To clear out the mask – One of the major reasons why the nose stays inside the mask is because you will need to push out any water that has entered the mask. That is an important and mandatory lesson that instructors will teach you if you ever start scuba diving. Professional divers will also tell you that water entering into the mask is a common problem. In order to get rid of the water, you will simply need to breathe in through the mouth, pinch the top portion of the mask and then exhale through the nose. That will gently push the water out of the mask.
  2. To avoid a mask squeeze – Mask squeeze is another common problem faced by divers. A mask squeeze is where the diver’s mask gets uncomfortably tight on the face. That causes the mask to “squeeze” against their face. Usually, this problem can easily be fixed by getting a mask with the right fit in the first place (so if you have a larger face choose a mask accordingly). However, if you want to avoid a mask squeeze, you will need to exhale through your nose gently while descending into the water. By doing this, you can easily prevent mask squeeze.

How to Increase Your Breath Hold for Scuba Diving

Yes, it is possible to increase your breath hold. Similar to mastering any other technique, this one too requires a lot of patience and practice.

The process of breath holding can be easily done in one simple step.

Before trying to practice under the water, it is best to see how well you can do it above water. And that is the first step.

Sit upright on a chair or lie down straight on a bed. Before you start holding your breath, breathe normally for two minutes. Inhale and exhale peacefully. Once you feel ready, take a deep breath in and slowly exhale it out.

After this, take a really deep breath, as deep as your lungs can. Hold your breath here. Do not focus on the activity you are doing at the moment. Try to distract yourself by thinking about other things.

When you start to find it a little difficult, exhale the air out. Keep practicing this technique over and over again.

You may find it a little difficult at first. However, as time goes on, you can easily master the art of breath holding.

Why is it Important to Practice Breathing Techniques?

scuba breathing techniques

When a person is at rest, they can easily inhale and exhale 20 times a minute. However, when you master the art of controlled breathing, you can easily hold your breath for longer without struggling too much.

And what’s even better is that you will also learn how to make full use of your lungs. This way, you can take shorter breaths that will help you last longer as well.

When you have completely learned how to use your lungs, you will find that you can breathe easier underwater and you will not face any pressure or struggle

That is why it is necessary to practice these techniques before you go scuba diving. One reason beginner divers find it difficult under the water is that they are not familiar with breathing techniques.

On the other hand, professional divers have years of experience and have full control over their breathing patterns.

If you are a beginner diver, we would recommend you practice your breathing on land first. During this process, you can familiarize yourself with the various techniques used to control your breathing pattern.

Once you are confident about your skills, you can try testing them out in a swimming pool. Make sure you try these techniques in a shallow pool, as this is much safer. It might be difficult at first, but you will be ready to scuba dive with time and constant practice.

How to Breathe the Right Way While Scuba Diving

Even after you master the breathing techniques, you might still find scuba diving a bit troubling. Listed below are a few tips and tricks that you can make use of the next time you take the plunge.

Swim Before You Dive

Before you go scuba diving, make sure you go for a quick swim first. That will help get prepared for what is to come later.

Stretch Your Body

Scuba diving is an activity that requires you to stretch out your body. In order to avoid muscle cramps and pulls, remember to stretch properly.

Swim Naturally

When you are underwater, do not force yourself. Keep in mind to go with the flow and swim easily. Do not get stressed or anxious at any point.

Experience Diving

Beginner divers always struggle when compared to professional divers, but that is completely normal. As time goes by, you will eventually get the hang of it, so just keep practicing.

Final Words

Scuba diving has been and still is one of the most exciting adventurous activities. With the rise in its popularity, a lot of people are curious to experience it.

However, you need to keep in mind that the rules of breathing are important, especially if you are a beginner. Please make sure you regularly practice it before you go underwater. This way, you will have a safer and more enjoyable experience.

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