Published: December 11, 2017
Hmm. Good question.
Can you breathe while running? Can you breathe while swimming? Can you breathe while singing?
The answer, of course, is a resounding yes. You can breathe while skydiving. In fact, we actively encourage breathing while skydiving. (Breathing regularly is super-good for you.) Even in freefall--at speeds up to 160mph--you can easily get plenty of oxygen into those airbags. Just like breathing while running, swimming and singing, it just takes a little bit of technique to do so effectively. Here's what you need to know.
Don't Stop The Breathing
The only thing that stops first timers from breathing during their skydive is that they simply forget. No wonder--it's crazy-overwhelming up there! There are so many new sensations coming at you from every direction that a little thing like inhale-exhale-inhale might fall off the priority list.
Since that's such a bad idea, we help. We do our best to attack the forgetting-to-inhale problem by telling each of our first-time tandem students to let out a solid holler when they exit the plane. Like a lil' behbeh crying after being born, that yell forces the student to take a deep breath and acclimate.
(Don't) Take My Breath Away
The concentration of oxygen at the altitude from which we jump at Skydive Tecumseh--about 13,500'--is approximately 40% lower than the concentration of oxygen on the ground. That's totally sufficient for the amount of time you'll be up there, and supplemental oxygen wouldn't be required (or even suggested) for a skydive for another 1,500 feet. That said: The concentration is lower. For comfort, try to breathe about 40% more deeply. This certainly isn't exact, but the effort will help focus you on your breathing and give your body a bit of a leg up.
It's (Not Necessarily) Getting Harder and Harder to Breathe
Our bodies are finely tuned to recognize when our breathing is out-of-whack; unfortunately, the knee-jerk response to that for the uninformed might be a panic reaction that shallows the breathing pattern even more. Between the unfamiliarity of the tandem harness, the reduced temperature at altitude, the lower concentration of oxygen and the sheer amount of stuff goin' on, you might feel a little restricted in the breathing department. The best thing to do is relax.
As a skydiver--and make no mistake, as a tandem student you are a skydiver--you're not just taking a roller-coaster ride. You'll have to take on the challenge of directing your own experience. That means it's on you to breathe deeply and regularly. Try a trick from the yoga mat: inhale for six counts, hold it in for four counts, exhale for six counts, hold it out for four counts and repeat. Do this while you're gazing out the window at the beautiful Michigan landscape and you've got yourself a reg'lr meditation studio.
Will your first skydive will take your breath away? Yes! But not literally, especially if you follow this guide. We're looking forward to showing you how deep a breath of fresh air our sport can be!