Every yoga pose, known in Sanskrit as an “asana,” has its own way of bringing the body and mind into greater harmony. World-renowned yoga teacher B.K.S. Iyengar poetically compares the body to a bow and each asana to the various arrows with which individuals target the ultimate aim of yoga practice — the soul.
This guide offers an in-depth look at plow pose (halasana).
About the Pose
“Hala” is the Sanskrit word for “plow,” and this inversion places your body into the shape of an old-fashioned plow. When thinking of a plow, you might envision the concept of good, old-fashioned hard work. This pose will definitely make you work for its healthful qualities. But, isn’t hard work worth a remarkable reward like caring for yourself? As with most yoga poses, halasana restores calm while reenergizing the mind and body. Practice this pose regularly and you’ll feel your strength and confidence grow. Level: Intermediate Key Benefits:
- Massages the abdominal organs
- Lengthens the spine
- Aids digestion
- Releases tension in the shoulders and lower back
- Individuals with ischemia, cervical spondylosis, or diarrhea should avoid this pose.
- Don’t practice this pose during menstruation.
- Headaches, migraines, breathing difficulties, high blood pressure, obesity, or fatigue can all create major obstacles for this pose. Iyengar therefore suggests people with these conditions use props and supervision to make this pose achievable.
- Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana): This beginner pose encourages flexibility in the spine and shoulders, improves digestion, and expands the chest.
- Shoulder Stand Pose (Salamba Sarvangasana): This intermediate pose improves throat ailments, regulates bowel movements, alleviates urinary disorders, reduces menstrual cramps, and relieves insomnia.
- Headstand Pose (Salamba Sirsasana): This advanced pose eases cold symptoms, reinvigorates the lungs, increases the amount of hemoglobin in the blood, and relieves insomnia.
Trying It Out
For this pose, Iyengar suggests using two folded blankets covered by a mat beneath your back, neck, and shoulders. Remember to keep your breathing full and steady as you follow these step-by-step instructions to try this pose out for yourself:
Lie down with your head resting on the floor. Stretch out your legs and tighten your knees together slightly. Rest your palms on the floor beside you.
Lift your buttocks off the floor and bend your knees to your chest. Keep your hands where they are on the floor, but push firmly against the floor with your fingers. Open your chest as you push your shoulders down against the floor.
Roll your hips and buttocks up toward the ceiling. Your knees should come close to your chin. Lift your calves until your shins are perpendicular to the floor. Extend the arches of your feet.
Place your hands on the small of your back. Lift your buttocks and hips even higher so your torso is now perpendicular to the floor. Your bent knees should hover over your forehead at this stage.
Swing your hips and buttocks over your head, making sure to align them with your shoulders. Straighten your legs and lower them to the floor, using your toes to press down on the floor for stability. Raise your chest so it touches the bottom of your chin.
Stretch your arms out behind you so they’re straight and then interlock your fingers.
Breathe in this pose for one to five minutes.
Refining the Pose
Achieving maximum benefit from your yoga practice requires you to pay close attention to your physical alignment. To ensure you maintain proper alignment, ask yourself these questions:
- Are your buttocks tightened?
- Are your legs straight?
- Are your toes anchoring your body?
- Are your arms straightened behind you?
- Half Plow Pose Feet on Wall (Ardha Halasana Feet on Wall): After following steps one through three of halasana, this variation lets you rest your feet flat against a wall behind you with your hands supporting the small of your back.
- Side Plow Pose (Parsva Halasana): This variation starts in halasana and then involves walking your feet as far left as they can go while trying to keep your pelvis in a balanced position. Breathe here for at least 30 seconds before doing the same movement on the other side.