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I don't know if this is something idiosyncratic or just something that everyone deals with, but I have a difficult time breathing when my diaphragm is compressed, such as when I'm crouching (which makes things a good bit more difficult for Capoeira) or when I'm bent over as in a pike stretch or doing the yoga plough position. I get a lesser effect when in a deep lunge. I think that what's happening is that, in those situations, my legs are pressing into my diaphragm, compromising how well it can work, but the best I can manage is shallow breathing, not exactly conducive to remaining long in the position, particularly since I have a hard time shaking the idea that I'm just not getting enough oxygen.

Are there any tricks to improving this other than just continuing to do these exercises and hoping that my body catches on that it needs to adapt? I'm in reasonable shape for someone in a sedentary position. I can climb several flights of stairs at a brisk pace without losing my breath and I have not tested positive for exercise-induced asthma.

  • Your diaphragm runs side to side at the bottom of your ribcage. You shouldn't have much impact to it even in a pike stretch unless you are curling/compressing your upper body/torso. Almost nothing you can do with your legs should affect it. – JohnP Sep 18 '14 at 15:00
  • Hmm... So you're saying that it's likely that the source of the short breath is something else? – Sean Duggan Sep 18 '14 at 15:45
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    No, you may very well be compressing your abdomen and affecting the diaphragm, I just disagree with your corollary that it is being caused by the legs. More likely a curling in of the upper body/torso, rather than having a straight back. – JohnP Sep 18 '14 at 17:52
  • If you struggle to breathe in halasana it is because of poor form. Continuing to do an exercise with poor form and hoping this leads to eventually having good form is not an awesome plan. Elevate your feet with blocks or a chair and support you back until you are comfortable with a neutral spine, then work on increasing hip fold range and shoulder extension to get deeper. – Affe Sep 18 '14 at 21:07
  • Huh. It looks like I'm far from the only person who's had this problem during the plow: damngoodyoga.com/2012/03/asana-of-week-halasana.html. – Sean Duggan Sep 20 '14 at 18:01

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