The breath adapts to the different positions of the body, but if it we feel like we can’t breathe, then we need to back off. If shoulderstand (sarvangasana) and plow pose (halasana) feel difficult to breathe in, that’s no surprise. As in any inversion, the weight of the abdominal content is resting on the diaphragm, making it harder to inhale. So: great to strengthen the diaphragm! However, if we let the weight of the pelvis and legs just drop, it will shorten our spine and the front of the trunk, and we won’t have space for the air to come in. By pressing our shoulders and arms into the ground we will feel the trunk elongating upwards. Using the core muscles around the waist to hug our centre we can send the pelvis up high, away from our ribcage, giving the lungs space. In plow pose this will also prevent overstretching at the lower back, as our spine is supported closer to its neutral shape. First things must come first, and if one is a living being, breathing is definitely at the top of the list!

Thanks to all my students at Yoga Hub Berlin, who inspire me with their practice.

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