Plow
HALĀSANA (हलासन)
(hah-LAH-sah-nah)

 


‘Hala’= plow, ‘āsana’= posture


Alternate Names

Plough
Snail Pose (Yin Yoga)

Difficulty Level: Intermediate
Pose Type: Inversion  / Supine / Stretch / Balance

1. Start in Corpse Pose (Savasana), except with your arms by your sides and your palms face down on the mat (Supine position).
2. Make sure your back is flat to the floor with your shoulder blades flat across your back, bringing your shoulders down to the mat.
3. Take a deep breath, and then exhale, as you use your lower abdomen to raise your legs up in the air, bending at the hips. Keep your legs together.
4. Continue to raise your legs forward, using your back and abdomen to lift your hips up and off the mat. Draw your back up and engage your core to draw your navel into your spine.
5. Extend your legs straight forward so that your feet and thighs continue over your head.
6. Line up your hips and shoulders, tighten your glutes, and bring your feet down to rest on your toes or balls of your feet.
7. Line up your feet with the crown of your head as you press down into your toes to root yourself to the mat.
8. Make sure that your weight is distributed in your upper back and shoulders as your shoulders and arms are also rooted to the mat. Lengthen your back.
9. Be conscious of your breath; keep your chest open, with your chin slightly tucked in, and your shoulder blades broad across your back. Be sure not to crunch your neck.
10. Your hands can either stay flat on the mat or you can gently draw your shoulders in so that you can claps your hands in Venus Lock or Jupiter Mudra on the mat behind your back.
11. Relax your back, jaw, and neck.
12. Hold this pose for several breaths (about 20 seconds to build strength and flexibility) and breath smoothly. When ready, slowly release back into Corpse Pose (Savasana).

Common Adjustments
• Neck strained / crunched
• Back arched / Lower back (Lumbar) compressed
• Shoulders not aligned / Shoulders lifting off the ground
• Torso not perpendicular to the ground / Rolling to the side
• Chin tucked in too far / Chest collapsed into the chin
• Breath restricted

Modifications
• For beginners, students with tightness in the back, shoulders, or hips, students whose feet don’t reach all the way to the mat, or students that have difficulty holding the pose, they can either: a) practice against a wall so that they can place the soles of their feet on the wall, b) they can bring their feet to rest on a chair (next to a wall) or a block, or c) they can practice Half Plow (Ardha Halasana) Shoulder Stand, or Supported Plow (Salamba Sarvangasana) to build their strength and confidence.
• Students with weak or tight shoulders/back or who experience shoulder or upper back discomfort can place a folded blanket or mat under the neck and shoulders for support.
• Students with Asthma should practice with their legs supported on props.
• Students with weak backs or tight hamstrings can place their hands on their lower back for support or bend their knees.
• To build strength, and help with alignment, students can practice with a chair in front and behind them. The chair in front helps the student keep their arms and shoulders in alignment while the chair in the back is there for the student to rest their feet on.
• Students who would like to enhance this pose can either extend their arms over head to grab onto the soles of their feet or they can bring their knees down to rest on each side of their head next to their ears.

Counter Poses
• Corpse (Savasana) or Reverse Corpse (Advasana)
• Bow (Dhanurasana)
• Camel (Ustrasana)
• Fish (Matsyasana)
• Happy Baby (Ananda Balasana)
• Supine Hero (Supta Virasana)
• Supine Twist (Jathara Parivartanasana)

Anatomy
• Neck• Chest (Pectoralis Major and Minor)
• Shoulders (Deltoids)• Upper (Cervical), Middle (Thoracic), and Lower (Lumbar) Back and Spine
• Abdomen (Core) and Obliques• Hips
• Gluteus Maximus, Medius, and Minimus (Glutes)• Quadriceps and Hamstrings
• Calf muscles• Ankles and Feet

Benefits
• Stretches and strengthens the neck, chest, shoulders, spine, entire back, abdomen, hips, glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, calf muscles, ankles, and feet.
• Lengthens the spine, increasing flexibility as well as improves posture and spinal alignment. This can also soothe back stiffness as well as relieves stress and tension from the back and shoulders.
• Opens the neck, shoulders, abdomen, legs, and back muscles.
• Massages digestive and pelvic organs, which improves colon function and digestion, as well as soothes constipation, stomach pains, or abdominal ailments. Also, stimulates the thyroid and immune system along with the thyroid, parathyroid, pituitary, and endocrine glands.
• Improves blood circulation, which soothes headaches and/or migraines along with menstrual and menopausal discomfort. This asana also stimulates the kidneys, pancreas, liver, and spleen, as well as is therapeutic for students with a weak liver or kidneys, sinusitis, or diabetes.
• Stimulates the nervous system, which calms the brain, reducing stress, anxiety and fear, as well as relieves mild depression, migraines, stress related headaches, insomnia, nervous exhaustion, fatigue.
• By holding this asana, concentration, focus, and memory are improved. This helps to boost energy, as well as energizes the mind and encourages confidence, self-control, and acceptance. Also helps with breath awareness and relaxation.

Contraindications
1. This pose should be practiced with guidance and modifications if you have back problems, slipped disc, sciatica, hernia, weak or injured cervical, asthma, difficulty breathing, arthritis in the neck, fatigue, weak hamstrings or calf muscles, have an enlarged thyroid, spleen, or liver, severe headache or migraine, weak digestions, have high blood pressure, have weak blood vessels in the eyes, or are pregnant.
2. Students with severe upper or lower back issues, have diarrhea, ischemia, or cervical spondylosis, or are pregnant or in their menstrual cycle should avoid this pose.
3. Beginners should practice with caution and guidance.
4. It is important to warm up and thoroughly stretch before practicing this pose. This is not a pose for the beginning of class.
5. Do not allow a prop (pillow, bolster, etc.) under the head as it may compromise and strain the neck.
6. Students with High Blood Pressure (HBP) need their physician’s approval.

Chakras
Chakra Three:Solar Plexus, Self-Power, or Manipura (lustrous gem) Chakra. This is the combustion, power, and energy chakra. Its goals are vitality, strength of will, and purpose. Its location is the solar plexus.
Chakra Four:Heart, Love, or Anahata (Unstuck) Chakra. This is the love and equilibrium chakra. Its goals are balance, compassion, and acceptance. Its location is the heart.
Chakra Five:Throat, Visuddha, Vissudha, Vishuddhi, or Vishuddha (purification) Chakra. This is the communications and sympathetic vibrations chakra. Its goals are clear communication, creativity, and resonance. Its location is the throat.



Additional information on this asana can be found in your textbooks

  • In the textbook “Instructing Hatha Yoga – 2nd Edition With Web Resource” by: Diane M. Ambrosini, this posture can be found in Chapter 10 – Inverted Postures as “Halasana – Plow Pose”.
    • Watch the Chapter 10 video “Halasana” found in the Web Resources that come with your textbook “Instructing Hatha Yoga – 2nd Edition With Web Resource” by: Diane M. Ambrosini. This video gives you an additional example of how to practice this asana.
  • In the textbook “YOGA Anatomy – Third Edition” by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthew, this posture can be found in Chapter 11 – SUPINE POSES as “HALASANA – Plow Pose”. **This textbook shows a slight variation where the hands are clasped together (instead of palms facing down toward the floor). This variation is typically more ideal for intermediate to advanced practitioners.
  • In the textbook “YOGA Anatomy – Third Edition” by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthew, a variation of this posture can be found in Chapter 11 – SUPINE POSES as “KARNAPIDASANA – Knee-to-Ear Pose”. **This textbook shows a slight variation where the hands are clasped together (instead of palms facing down toward the floor). This variation is typically more ideal for intermediate to advanced practitioners.

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