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"Halasana or Plough Pose"

Hal' stands for 'plow' and 'Asana' stands for 'pose'. Halasana or 'the plough pose' takes its name from the farming instrument, plough, used by farmers across India to prepare the soil for sowing of seeds. In the sequence of asanas, Halasana is usually performed after Sarvangasana, which is basically a shoulder stand. According to Meenakshi Swami, the author of The Science of Yoga, "asanas like halasana, suryanamaskara, seershasana and kapalbharti increase the flow of blood to your head, improving intellectual power as well as memory."

It's one of those asanas which you can't perform half-heartedly because you may seriously injure yourself. You need to be extremely mindful, have great control over your breath and keep steady for at least 15 seconds. Once you build strength and flexibility, you can try and hold this pose for as long as 10 minutes.

Padamam means Plough and Asana indicates the seat which in turn indicates sitting in a position without any movement. It’s very important to be alert and be conscious while doing any Asanas, and your mind must be relaxed and concentrate while practicing yoga.

Steps of Halasana (Plough Pose)
  1. Grab a mat and lie down straight with your hands on the side.
  2. Slowly raise your legs together followed by your hips. At this point you can also use your hands to support your back.
  3. Take your legs backwards, over your head, towards the floor.
  4. Gently, place your toes on the ground. Then, place your arms back on the side.
  5. Hold this pose for as long as you can and while you do, breather slowly and keep looking forward.
  6. As the blood rushes to your head, pace your breath and hold.
  7. Once you're done, hold your lower back with your hands and bring your legs back to lie down straight. Exhale while you do this.
Benefits of Halasana(Plough Pose)
  • One of the most noticeable benefits of Halasana is the extreme stretch it gives to your back bone, right from the neck to the tail bone, releasing any muscular tension.
  • With age, your backbone tends to become stiff. Halasana works on the flexibility of your backbone and helps open up and strengthen it.
  • BKS Iyengar, the founder of 'Iyengar Yoga' suggests that Halasana is extremely helpful for those suffering migraine.
  • Swami Satyananda Saraswati writes in Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha, "Halasana massages all the internal organs, activates digestion, relieves constipation, revitalises the spleen, suprarenal glands (which belong to the endocrine system and are placed over your kidneys), promotes the production of insulin by the pancreas and improves liver and kidney function."
  • He adds, "Halasna also regulates activities of the thyroid gland which balances the body's metabolic rate, and stimulates the thymus gland, boosting the immune system.
Tips for Halasana(Plough Pose)
  • The best way to do this asana is to place folded blankets under your shoulders. This lends some support to your upper body and ne.
  • If you find it difficult to lift your hips off the ground, try placing a pillow under them. This should give you the initial push.
  • Use both your hands to stabilise yourself and keep them there till you've safely placed your toes on the ground. Even the slightest movement could create imbalance and you could risk injury to your neck.
  • For those with a stiffer back, try another version of Halasana, known as Ardhaasana where your legs are parallel to the floor and resting on a chair.
  • Breathing - Inhale and hold on to your breath while you get into the pose. Exhale and then steady your breath while in the pose. When you want to resume your earlier position, breathe and hold on to it again.
Cautions!

While in Plough Pose the body appears strong like a 'plow', Plough Pose (Halasana) can cause discomfort if not practiced with guidance. Some of the main contraindications of Halasana are as follows:

  • Those suffering from back problems or slipped disc.
  • Weak or injured cervical muscles.
  • Weak legs, weak hamstring muscles or calf muscles.
  • Pregnant women or women during their menstruation time should avoid Halasana.
  • Those with enlarged thyroid, spleen and liver should avoid this yoga poses as a lot of pressure is put at the lower abdomen during this pose.
  • Weak blood vessels in the eyes.
  • Those with severe headaches such as migraines.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Sciatica problems.
  • Those with weak digestion.
  • Those suffering from back problems or slipped disc.

General awareness of the body is no doubt needed during the practice of any yoga pose or asana. Even if one does not have any of the above problems and yet finds it difficult to go into this pose or remain in this pose comfortably, one should work on the body with the guidance of an expert in the field of yoga practice. Sometimes the above problems too can be worked at or overcome with slow practice of other asanas (yoga poses). With gain in confidence one can start doing Halasana (Plough Pose) to get maximum benefit. This infact is the beauty of yoga practice and yoga discipline that you will find your way eventually to any yoga pose with regular practice.



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