13 May No hands Equalisation
No hands Equalisation
Keen to learn how to do a ‘No Hands Equalisation’? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to equalise without pinching your nose? When I first started freediving I couldn’t do it and I learnt how so today I’m going to show to how to do it too!
How To Equalise With No Hands
No hands equalisation is not the same as frenzel equalisation, where we pinch our nose and use our tongue and throat muscles to equalise our ears though some of the mechanics are very similar. Let’s start by breaking down the mechanic of no hands equalisation. How is it that we are equalising without pinching our nose?
Usually to equalise the middle ear we need to create enough pressure in the nasal cavity to push apart the Eustachian tube and allow air to pass through. This is why we have to pinch the nose with all other forms of equalisation because when we pinch our noses we trap the pressure in our nasal cavity and that allows pressure to build up.
With no hands equalisation what we’re doing is actively opening our eustachian tubes so with a small lift of our tongue and throat muscles we are pushing the air that’s in our mouths into our nasal cavity and because our tubes are open already and don’t need to be pushed open some of that air going into our middle ear.
How are we opening our eustachian tubes? We do it with our soft palate. The muscles in our soft palate connect to muscles around of our eustachian tubes and when move our soft palate in a specific way our tubes open and then we can push air through them.
So we lift our soft palate with a specific movement and then we pump with our tongue and throat. Simple! It is simple when you know how to do it but learning how to do it is like learning how to raise an eyebrow or wiggle your ears. It’s a specific muscles isolation that just takes a bit of time so we’re going to go through a sequence of exercise that will lead to you being able to control and move your muscles for no hands equalisation.
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So back to no hands equalisation! We’re going to need to build control first of our throat and tongue before we learn exactly how we are moving our soft palate to open our eustachian tubes.
You can lift your throat muscles up and you can drop them downward. This is me moving them up and you can see my Adam’s Apple rising. This is neutral or a relaxed position. This is me dropping my tongue and throat down. See my adam’s apple dropping. Up, down, up, down. This is the first exercise. Controlling the movement of your throat. It is the throat that pushes the air up into your opened tubes.
It’s completely normal if this makes your gag! This does hit out gag reflex a bit. Now next we’re going to do the same thing but with the mouth open and our tongues stuck out. Stick it out nice and far. Up, down, up, down. It’s disgusting!
Finally we’re going to do the same thing but with our tongue folded back over itself. This is a great one to make you gag! But this position is really important because holding your tongue in this position will start to place your soft palate into the position it needs to be for your eustachian tubes to open voluntarily. Up, down, up, down.
So now for the soft palate. The soft palate directs the flow of air when we’re breathing. When we are breathing though our nose the soft palate closes against the back on our tongue and directs the flow of air out of our nasal cavity. When we’re breathing with our mouths the soft palate sits in a neutral position and because the opening to our mouths is larger and more immediate the air flows out of our mouths.
With those movements it’s mostly the back of the soft palate that is changing position but when we no hands equalise the part of the soft palate that we want to move is the middle of our soft palate. I want you to yawn now. Did you feel any crackling or popping or the feeling or sound of equalisation when you did that?
When you yawn there is a moment when the centre of your soft palate rises and that in particular is the movement that we want to be able to control and exaggerate to open the tubes further. I want you to spend a few moments now just yawning and trying to get a really good feel for that movement.
The next step here is to place a finger on the roof of your mouth and yawn again. Feeling this will build a better impression for what in particular is moving…there’s a really good chance that this will make you gag!
Now we are going to try to raise the centre of our soft palates into the same position that we would hold it when yawn. Don’t worry about trying to make any equalisation sounds we’re just building strength and coordination. Lift the soft palate in the centre, hold for five seconds. Then do it again, hold for five seconds.
When we do this our jaws should not be moving at all. The rest of our mouths should be loose and relaxed and by now we should be starting to develop a pretty good awareness of the specific movement that we want in our soft palates.
So that’s the mechanic of it all. Now we’re going to start piecing it all together so that instead of just moving your soft palates and trying not to gag you’ll be able to actually equalise!
I want to increase blood flow to your heads now and at the same time pass a lot of air past your eustachian tubes in big bursts. We’re going to do a breathing technique from Yoga….that’s right…We’re going to do the yoga. It’s called Kapalabati and i’m 100% certain that we’re not going to be doing it properly and that makes me happy.
Sit up straight or stand up straight. We’re going inhale and exhale only with our noses. We’re going to do a strong exhale pushing with our stomachs then relax and allow yourself to automatically inhale again. Don’t control your inhale. Just let it happen on its own.
Now we’re going to speed it up. We’re going to do 30 seconds of this then rest for 30 seconds and we’re going to do that 5 times. You may get a bit dizzy! So I prefer to do this sitting.
You should have some increased blood flow to your head now and that’s going to make it easier for your eustachian tubes to open. This is the perfect time to start humming! We’re going to hum continuously and as we do we’re going to play around with the position of our soft palate, raising the middle just like when we yawn.
What we’re after here is to hear our humming in our ears, like an internal noise. When you hear that it’s because the air that you’re humming up is reaching your middle ear. Hum and lift your soft palate and find the movement that will make your humming sound like it’s vibrating in your ears.
After playing with that for a few minutes I hope you started to have some success with it. So now that we have a good idea of the way we move our soft palate you can practice stringing it together. Lift your soft palate and pump your throat upwards. Push the air into your middle ear. When we’re equalising this way the aim initially isn’t to keep the centre of the soft palate held up in the equalisation position. It’s the movement that opens the ears. Not holding it in that position. So when you lift the soft palate and pump the throat muscles at the same time afterwards just relax them both.
The progress with this will be slow and usually it takes a few weeks of doing these exercises every day to truly develop no hands equalisation but when you do diving becomes so easy! You never have to pinch your nose again! At first you’ll find that you’re only able to it when you dive down at angles and you may not be able to do it very deep! But it will get stronger and stronger the more you practice and soon enough you’ll be able to do it head down and vertical.
When I was doing these exercises originally I was swimming a lot of breast stroke and I would try to do an equalisation every time I put my head underwater with each stroke. That’s how I cracked it for myself. Just repetition and muscle isolation.
Okay so what’s our daily program to get our no hands equalisation working? This will take you roughly 20 minutes and if you do it every day for a few weeks you will have a life of easier diving ahead of you!
No Hands Equalisation Exercise
- We’re going to start by lifting and dropping our throat with our tongue in a neutral position. We’re going to do this for 2 minutes. (demonstrate) Then 2 minutes doing it with the tongue stuck out. (demonstrate) Then we’re going to do it for 2 minutes with the tongue folded over itself.
- Next we’re going to spend 2 minutes pressing our soft palates into the position that opens up our eustachian tubes. We want to air to hold it in position for 5 seconds and then rest for 5 seconds. Hold for five, rest for 5 for 2 minutes.
- Then we’ll do our kapalabati for 5 minutes. 30 seconds breathing 30 seconds rest.
- Now we will spend the next 2 minutes humming the letter A and moving our soft palate so that we can hear the vibrations in our ears. Then hum the letter E for two minutes doing the same thing.
- Then spend a few minutes piecing it all together. Moving the soft palate into position and pumping with the throat.I hope you found this helpful! If it was please consider contributing to my patreon and supporting me so I can keep making Youtube videos. If you have any questions write them in the comments and I’ll answer them.
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