Monday, November 9, 2009

How to be an underwater model? (Excerpt from Tarachin MM web)

Originally taken from here . Thank you Tarachin
************ UNDERWATER MODELING TIPS ************

 A) Breath holding exercises: This can be done just about anywhere at anytime. Though having good breath holding time helps, it does not make one a good underwater model; many experienced UW models can do more then 10 poses within a 20 second time frame. This does not relate to "Mermaid" models as holding their breath is the first and most important part of their job.

1. Do exercises to increase your lung capacity. While there is no way to increase the size of your lungs, there are many ways to increase the amount of air taken in by your lungs, and the efficiency with which they capture oxygen.

2. Lose weight. Any excess baggage reduces your body's efficiency in using oxygen.

3. Quit smoking. This will considerably increase your lungs' ability to release carbon dioxide and absorb oxygen.

4. Before holding your breath, inhale and exhale slowly from deep within your diaphragm. By doing this, you're ridding your lungs of low-quality air. Spend 5 seconds breathing in and 5 seconds breathing out; do this for two minutes, and be sure that when you exhale, you push out every last "drop" of air.

5. Take a massive gulp of air and hold it. Don't breathe in so much that you're about to pop; fill your lung capacity to 80-85% so that you still have room to relax.

   * Always do this with a partner watching, since you can lose consciousness without warning.
   * Don't hold air in your cheeks. This method is meant for an air reserve, but you have to "let go" of the air in your lungs if you want to use the air in your cheeks, and exhaling air in your lungs usually gets rid of the reserve in your cheeks. In other words, it's not easy to switch out the air in your lungs and the air in your cheeks without letting both escape. But it can be done.

6. Splash cold water on your face. It's been observed that putting a person's face in contact with cold water triggers bradycardia, or the slowing of the heart rate, which is the first phase of the mammalian diving reflex. You don't need to actually put your entire head underwater, though. You can splash some cold water on your face right before you hold your breath, or try using a cold, wet washcloth (don't use an ice pack, though; the same study suggests that the shock of something too cold triggers other reflexes). Just make sure it's cold enough (21 °C or 70 °F) and the rest of your body is in a relaxed position.

7. Relax every muscle in your body. Meditate so that you can lower your heart rate. Your body will consume less oxygen that way. By closing your eyes, feeling, and focusing on slowing your heart beat, it is possible to lower your heart rate significantly and increase the time you are able to hold your breath for. Concentrate on something that's relaxing to you. When you can't concentrate anymore, distract yourself by doing something with your hands, like counting to 99 with your fingers.

8. Exhale slowly. When you can't hold your breath anymore, try to avoid exhaling all the air in your lungs in a mad rush. First, exhale about 20% of your air, and then inhale again so that oxygen gets to your most critical areas faster. Then you can exhale and inhale completely.

9. Repeat these steps 3-4 times per session. It is not recommended to do this any more, as it could damage your lungs and body. Try one session in the morning and one session at night if you wish. Keep practicing and before you know it, you will be able to hold your breath for several minutes.

Extra tips:

   * The urge to breathe is caused by a build up of carbon dioxide in your body, not a lack of oxygen.
   * Try not to think about holding your breath. If you think about pleasant things, you're less aware of the breath reflex.
   * Restrain yourself from swallowing when you start feeling fatigued. This will slow the increasing desire to surface.


   * Never hold your breath underwater during ascent if using pressurized air (like a scuba tank). The expansion of the pressurized air during ascent could rupture your lungs.
   * Never hyperventilate! Hyperventilation has many undesirable effects, one of the more dangerous being that it tricks your body into thinking that you have a lot more air than possible, making you pass out without any warning sign. If this happens while submerged and without a buddy, you will most likely die.
   * If you feel pain in your chest, exhale, and breathe normally.
   * Holding your breath underwater for long periods of time can be very dangerous. Never do it without a buddy!

B) Posing: Having no gravity can mean that one can take their poses to a whole new level. There is no "particular" way to pose underwater as we all have our own way of expressing ourselves. Though the following may help those who are new to the underwater world...

1. Having dance/acrobat background does help but it being able to hold a pose and buoyancy can be harder then it seems. The first thing to learn is how to make your self sink. Letting just enough air out of your lungs but being able to keep enough air that you wont be stuck at the bottom of the pool; you can easily injure yourself by knocking your head, elbows, knees and scraping your feet. The trick is to stay in the middle of the pool; this way you will have the space to do flips and turns without the injury.

2. Don’t stress out/panic! If you feel that you cannot hold a pose, take a break, catch some air and try again. Being uncomfortable in the water will easily show on your poses. Your hands would look tense and the muscles in your body (specially your neck) will pop out like a body builder who just pumped weights... 

3. Holding a calm expression: This is honestly the hardest part. Thinking of something that makes you feel at ease or calm always helps. If you can open your eyes in water try not to focus so much on seeing clear, we are not made to see in water... lol... You can always pretend you are above water and just holding your breath, which may work too. But most of all, try not to hold air in your cheeks, squint your eyes or tighten/tense your mouth/lips.

4. Try not to splash around and move too fast in the water. It not only creates surface disturbance which can be a pain when doing reflection work (not to mention getting tired out after the first hour), it also causes your skin to get rippled by the force of the water... believe me, its funny to see the result of it but does nothing for your self confidence; you would look like a squashed prune...

5. Posing with others: This is way harder then doing work alone. If you decide to this then make sure you discuss or choreograph before hand so that you wont be accidentally kicking and hitting each other in the water. Finding a good underwater partner is rare but when you do find him/her you will be inseparable as a pair and your work can be more interesting and expressive.

C) Safety and side effects: The following are some of the most common safety issues, side effects, and problems when doing UW work…

1. Regulating ear pressure: From experience, this can be the most problematic if not done at all or not done properly. I have damaged both of my ears and now have problems hearing clearly, the good news is that your eardrums heal so hearing can and should return to near normal, if damaged. Ear aches are a regular side effect and can be excruciating when swimming... the last thing one needs is to get "swimmers ear" which can cause inner ear infections which in turn can make you very ill... be aware of this always. Even though you may not be a diver, it is important to know this as the same is used for underwater modeling as some pools can be more then 10 feet deep. Here are a few tips that divers use to help regulate ear pressure (taken from a dive site):

Ear Clearing Tips:

   * To equalize the pressure in the ear, we pass air through the Eustachian tube into the middle ear. This makes the air pressure in the middle ear the same as the pressure of the water around you. The method used by most divers is the Valsalva maneuver. You can do this by blowing gently against pinched nostrils to equalize ear pressure with that of the water around you. Some divers will equalize by swallowing repeatedly or by moving their jaw side to side. The important thing is to find the method that works for you.

   * Relax: Slow, even breathing patterns will help you relax. This also relaxes the muscles around the Eustachian tube and makes in much easier to clear your ears.

   * Start to Equalize When You Begin Your Descent: As you make a slow, controlled feet first descent, start equalizing as soon as you feel your head go beneath the surface of the water. Then equalize every 3 feet/1 meter or so until you reach the bottom. Don’t wait until your ears start to hurt. Remember, qualize early and often.

   * Ascend If You Can’t Equalize: If you have problems equalizing while you make your descent, ascend a few feet to relieve ear pressure slightly, and then try again. If after a few tries you still cannot get your ears to clear, you should call off the dive to avoid an ear injury.

   * Advice from James Wiseman: "Here's a tip for getting water out of your ears and preventing outer ear infections (believe me, I've dove in some funky water - there is actually a GREAT dive site in the Philippines called "basura!")

After each shoot/dive, make up a mix of alcohol and vinegar and drop it into each ear.  It will mix with whatever water is in there and the mix will help it flow out - and if it doesn't flow out, the alcohol will help it evaporate.  The vinegar kills bacteria.

If you DO get an infection, there are Cipro ear drops that are AWESOME.  I had to use it once after diving in Zanzibar..."


   * Do Not Dive With a Sinus Problem or a Cold: Any kind of nasal congestion can cause blockages in your airway. This will prevent you from clearing your ears and sinus. These blockages are caused by sinus problems and colds. If you do attempt to dive with congestion, you can get a nasty reverse squeeze. This happens when the air spaces cannot clear when you ascend. Taking decongestants will not always work at depth and often wear off during the dive. This will also cause a reverse squeeze.

   * Do not use ear plugs as it can cause your eardrums to rupture and may also get stuck in your ears. This is very dangerous and can cause you to go deaf.

   * Do not regulate your ears if you have water in your nose. This too can cause great damage to the eardrum.

2. Your eyes in chlorinated water: This may not seem like much of an issue but it can cause some people to have an allergic reaction as well as those who have sensitive eyes. If swimming for longer then 4 hours in a well chlorinated pool you may find that your eyes are dry, swollen, bloodshot, itchy but most of all you will have blurred vision which I personally dislike (I once had blurred vision for 2 whole days). Simple steps can be taken to prevent this:

    * Make sure the pool owner takes out the chlorine float 3 days before the shoot.
    * Wash your eyes out with purified water for about 10 min if they are very sore.
    * Use eye GEL (it feels wierd but works wonders) every half hour when in the pool to prevent your eyes from drying out. Eye drops are pretty much useless as they will wash away as soon as you put them in.
    * I have heard that fish oil helps prevent the eyes from becoming bloodshot but am not sure if this is yet to be proven and would suggest doing some research before trying it out.

3. Water in your nose: I am sorry to say dearies, there is no way to prevent this from happening and its something we all have to just bare with when underwater. It may be painful but if you can handle it then you are a true sport. Many give up underwater work for this reason alone. You can always try blowing out the air when doing acrobats but that doesn't do much good for the image and the surface of the pool. There are no side effects that I know of from doing my own research but I have read that a very small amount of people may experience headaches (not yet been proven).

4. Dehydration: You may be thinking, "But I am in water the whole time, I don’t need to drink!". You have to always hydrate yourself, even if you think you’re not thirsty. Swimming, especially in the ocean can dehydrate you without your body even knowing it and you can overwork your body so much that you may become ill the next day. I love swimming cause its a full body workout that you don’t feel... so re-hydrate always!

5. Eating and swimming: There are no rules about what you can and cannot eat before a shoot. It really doesn't make much of a difference except having yourself a little more bloated then usual (which shouldn't be a problem since you always look slimmer due to the water pressure squeezing you). I would NEVER recommend swimming on a full stomach. There are two things that could and most probably would happen; 1. You will get major cramps and abdomen stitches and 2. You will sink, as there is hardly any air in your full stomach. Put these both together and that spells "possible casualty". Please, if you wish to eat a heavy meal, do so at least an hour before the underwater shoot. But, at the same time, it is important to keep up your energy level so take some trail bars or something light and have a little snack every hour or so.

I know its a lot to take in, I hope all of you find this section helpful. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask, its always important to know before you get your feet wet

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