Today one of the guys I am teaching came wearing a full-body swimsuit, so I decided to clarify the
distinction between swimming as yoga, recreation and sport.
The only 2 reasons for a professional sportsman to wear a tight full-body swimsuit is because it helps achieve a slight (2-3%) increase in the swimming speed and protects against jellyfish's bites. Some women in the Arab coutries wear loose burkinis for religious reasons, and some Indians wear full-body suits to prevent getting suntanned too.
Let us see the effects of wearing a (1) tight full-body swimsuit, a (2) a relatively loose, standard swimsuit and a (3) minimal swimsuit in a (a) swimming pool and the (b) sea.
1. Oxygen, prana and nadis
- As we know, one square inch of the human skin absorbs more oxygen than one square inch of the lung surface. However, in yoga, terms like "oxygen" are not key. In yoga, one learns how to maximize and to control the process of prana absorption from the air as well as water.
- The reason that yogis like Prahlad Jani have to rinse their mouth is due to the fact that water not only yields far greater amounts of prana but also has a cleansing and stabilising effect. The larger the open skin area, the greater the abosrption. A swimsuit, especially a tight one, blocks the pranic exchange. The reason Hatha Yoga practice is to be done without any clothes on, in a warm place is very simple: the nadis' openings to the outside world would connect one's prana kosha to the Universal Prana. After swimming, the prana circulates much faster through all nadis as the blocks are removed.
- The female skin has 1.5 times greater density of the nerve endings than the male, which is due to the fact that a female body depends on the pranic exchange much more than a male. This is why wearing tight clothes is not recommended for women.
- The reason swimmers can hold their breath far longer than an average person is also due to the fact that their capacity of absorbing prana through their skin is much greater. Of course, in a swimming pool, your skin absorbs chlorine and other toxic stuff.
2. Even distribution of one's attention throughout the surface of the body, and its use in Raja Yoga.
- Why do people love a bath with massaging jets (bubble bath)? The turbulence of the water in the sea is much greater than in a swimming pool. This turbulence not only massages the body but moves the body hair, which forces one to distribute one's attention evenly throughout the surface of one's body. It is the first step in expanding one's physical consciousness and is included in the standard Raja Yoga practice.
- This is why simply lying on the undulating sea surface will have an anaesthetic effect. While looking at the sky (which is also a part of the yoga practice), one's visual attention tends to be distributed throughout the entire field of vision, and is conducive to dhyana (meditation).
- When the rishis "drink up the entire Ocean", there wasn't any physical transfer of the Earth's water into the rishi's stomach. What they meant is the expansion of the rishi's consciousness to the entire Ocean's. Some of the results of the expansion of the consciousness are the absence of any fear and of the unpleasant or dangerous encounters in the ocean. In other words, if you don't want to be stung by a jelly fish, expand your consciousness!