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Halasana

The plough asana

Typically halasana or the plough pose is done as a continuation or part of a series when performing shoulder stand but it can be done as an easier alternative. But it can be something of a challenge and should be approached with caution as there is the same risk to neck damage as in shoulder stand.

Halasana is an inversion of dandasana and for anyone who cannot comfortably sit in paschimottanasana and reach their toes, this pose is impossible to complete without the risk of injury. Therefore anyone who is not flexible, must position themselves so that they can bring their feet down onto a wall or chair.

If you are very inflexible and unfit, a very simple alternative and a very nice way of relaxing is to swing your legs up on a wall from where you can relax and breathe.

To get into the position of this left image, set side onto the wall then lay back and swing your legs up. If you are not very supple allow some distance between your hips and the wall but if you are supple transit close enough so that your back thighs contact the wall. The inversion can be increased by sliding a pillow under your hips then by interlocking your fingers behind the back of your head, do some soft deep breathing.

When you are comfortable doing this, you can extend your hands toward the wall, bend your knees until your feet come flat on the wall and use the strength of your legs to lift your hips up from the floor. You are looking for a sense of ease is your spine curls up away from the floor. By working gently like this you have time to appreciate how to manage the increase of weight on your shoulders before lifting up into shoulder stand for bringing your feet above your head.

When you are ready to progress, using a platform of folded blankets and a chair is illustrated in the right image helps you to complete the pose. It's all very well to be able to touch your toes to the floor but if you are doing so at the expense of rounding your back, that position should not be held for very long because in the long-term it will be debilitating.

Please also see the page on shoulder stand and in this 1st video we have 2 flexible people demonstrating. Typically, when performing this exercise, one may spend several minutes in shoulder stand before folding the legs forwards from the hips.

Tips:

  • There should be no pressure on the neck or the back of the head
  • When you come up into the pose, do not turn the head and look around as there is a risk that this can damage ones neck.
  • News the hands to support the back so like and shoulder stand, all the way to the body is supported by the shoulders and elbows as you go in and out of the pose, plus the feet when in position
  • In many of the modern interpretations of this pose you see the arms extended and pressed down onto the floor. This is simply to open the shoulders but in the final pose, the hands continue to support the back. The hands lift the rib cage and the feet or rather the toes work to push the hips back over the hands and the two forces working together elevate the hips and legs and lengthen the spine.

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