Asanas: Practice | Halasana (Plough Pose)

 

Halasana is both a forward bending and a semi-inverted pose. It gives many benefits, especially when combined with sarvangasana1. The main reason for introducing it at this time :s that it is an excellent preparation for the first kriya yoga technique, vipareeta karani mudra2. Perfection of halasana will make . lpareeta karani mudra easy to perform. We therefore suggest that you practise halasana and sarvangasana as a preparation for the more advanced practices.

Halasana (Plough Pose)

The Sanskrit word hala means ‘plough’. Halasana is so called because in its final pose it resembles a plough; not the modern mechanized plough but the wooden plough pulled

by oxen or bulls that has been used in India since time immemorial and still is. The resemblance is very close. The English name for this asana is, not surprisingly, ‘the plough pose’.

Technique – basic form

The traditional method of doing halasana is as follows: Lie flat on the floor, facing upward. The legs should be straight and together and should remain so throughout the practice. The palms can face upward or downward; beginners may place their fists under the buttocks with the knuckles facing upwards. Relax the whole body and prepare for the practice. Breathe in deeply.

Then slowly raise the two legs to the vertical position; use the abdominal muscles as much as possible and the arms as little as possible. The aim, eventually, is to use only the abdominal muscles to raise the legs without the slightest help of the arms; this may require a little time and practice. Then fold the legs over the top of the head, keeping them straight as illustrated. As the legs are raised over the head, the buttocks and hips should also be simultaneously raised.

Gently lower the feet toward the ground behind the head, but without the slightest strain. If possible touch the toes to the ground behind the head; those who are unable to do this should allow their feet to suspend above the floor. This is the final pose. The hands and arms can be positioned as follows:

Keep in the same position with arms flat on the floor behind and to the side of the back.

The arms folded behind the back of the head with the hands clasped together.

The hands placed behind the hips as shown in the following picture.

 

You can choose any of these three alternatives. In the final pose relax the whole body as much as possible, keeping the legs straight. Breathe slowly and deeply. Maintain awareness of the breathing process. Stay in the final pose for a comfortable length of time.

 

Then either perform some or all of the variations (see later text) or return immediately to the starting position. Before returning to the starting position, the arms should be placed behind and to the side of the back, flat on the ground. The sequence of return is the reverse of that already described to take the final pose. The movement should be slow and controlled, using the abdominal muscles as much as possible. The legs should be lowered gently to the ground without any thud as they reach the floor; the back of the head should remain in contact with the floor throughout.

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