By Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
In Halasana the practitioner assumes the shape of a plough and hence the name. It is an inverted asana in hatha yoga practice. It is a good remedy for backache and insomnia. This asana is usually done after Sarvangasana.
Hala = plough
Asana = Posture
In Sritattvanidhi of 19th century, this asana has explained in the name of Langalasana which also means plough pose.
Read – Sukhasana – Easy Pose, How to do, Benefits, Dosha Effect, Precautions
Preparation for Halasana
- Perform the pose on empty stomach. Prepare accordingly by consuming food 4-6 hours before performing the asana.
- Keep your bladder and bowel empty before starting the pose.
- Ideally perform the asana early in the morning. You will also be empty stomach at that time. If it is not possible to do it at morning you can alternatively do it in the evening.
Method of doing Halasana
Positioning for the Asana
- Assume Salamba Sarvangasana – supported shoulder stand from where you will continue into doing Halasana.
Performing and getting to the Halasana
- Bend from the hip joints to slowly lower your toes to the floor, above and beyond your head.
- See that your torso is perpendicular to the floor. Your legs should be fully extended.
- Now while your toes are in contact with the floor, gently lift the top part of your thighs and tailbone towards the roof. You’re your inner groins deep into the pelvis. You should feel as if your torso is hanging from your groins.
- Move your chin away from your sternum.
- Press your hands against the back of your torso. Try to push your back towards the ceiling while you press the backs of your arms down against the floor. Alternatively if you can do it comfortably and if you are confident, release your hands off your back and stretch your arms out, behind you, on the floor, in the opposite direction of your legs. From this position, as you further lift your thighs towards the ceiling, clasp your hands and press your arms down, as a support.
Release from the asana
- Slowly release the clasp of your hands and bring your hands from their extended position on to your back again.
- Lift your back into Sarvangasana with an exhalation.
- Roll down on to your back or role out of the pose while exhaling.
Doing the pose from lying down position
- Lie down on your back on floor. Keep your arms beside your body, palms facing downwards.
- Inhale. Use your abdominal muscles and lift your feet gently off the floor. Raise your legs to make a right angle with your torso.
- Breathe normally. Support your hips and back with your hands and lift them off the floor.
- Sweep your legs straight over your head till your toes touch the floor. At this instance your body should be perpendicular to the floor.
- Hold in this pose and let your body to relax while breathing easily and steadily.
- If you are a beginner, keep in this position for few seconds. If you have mastered the pose you may stay there for few minutes.
- At release lift your legs and gradually bring them down to the resting position. Breathe easily and relax in the supine position.
- Salamba Sarvangasana – supported shoulder-stand
- Sethu Bandha Sarvangasana / Setubandhasana – bridge pose or shoulder supported bridge pose
- Purva Halasana – preliminary plow pose
- Sarvangasana – shoulder stand pose
- Viparita Karni
- Ashwini Mudra
- Adho Mukha Svanasana – downward facing dog pose
- Paschimottasana – seated forward bend or intense dorsal stretch
- Bhujangasana – Cobra Pose
- Pavanamuktasana – Wind relieving pose
- Vistruta Pada Halasana
- Matsyasana – fish pose
Partnering in the pose
You can take the help of a friend or partner to do the pose if you are not able to do it all by self. Perform the pose either with your feet on the floor or on a chair if you cannot reach your feet to the floor. Your partner may ease you doing this.
Modifications to perform the pose with ease
This pose seems to be a tough one. You can do certain modifications and adjustments so as to make and do it with ease.
Keep folded blankets under your shoulders. This provides support to your neck and body.
Place a pillow beneath your hips if you find it difficult to lift them off ground. This will provide the initial push.
Stabilize yourself using both hands as support until you have effectively placed your toes on the ground. This is important because an imbalance in doing the pose might cause serious injuries, especially to your neck.
Read – Health Benefits Of Yoga: Mind And Body
Variations of Halasana
Parshva Halasana i.e. sideways plough is a variant of Halasana.
This pose can be performed only by placing your feet on the floor. From Halasana with your hands on your back, first walk your left foot with exhalation, as far away as you can, keeping your right limb straight. After holding here for 30-60 seconds, move the feet back to the center with inhalation. Next repeat the same with the right foot. While doing this, keep the pelvis in neutral position and hips parallel to the floor.
Raja Halasana i.e. ‘Royal Plough’ pose is another variant wherein the knees are bent close in to the head and grasped by arms.
Other variants include Karnapidasana i.e. ear pressing pose wherein the knees are placed by the side of the ears and Supta Konasana – i.e. supine angle pose wherein the feet are kept wide apart.
What time should be spent in the pose while doing Halasana?
Halasana can be done for a time period stretching between 1-5 minutes or for a time period you are comfortable doing it or keeping yourself in that pose. Start with 1-2 minutes and gradually you may increase the time of performing the pose.
Read – Trikonasana Triangle Pose How to do, Benefits, Side Effects
Health Benefits of Halasana
- Stretches shoulders and spine, works on flexibility of backbone
- Opens up backbone and strengthens it, prevents backbone from becoming stiff
- Tones the legs and improves leg flexibility
- Helps in migraine or hypertension
- Improves working of spinal nerves
- Stimulates abdominal organs,
- Activates digestion, relieves constipation, revitalizes the spleen, suprarenal glands and promotes production of insulin by pancreas, improves liver and kidney functions
- Stimulates thyroid gland and parathyroid gland, improves its functioning
- Improves functioning of pituitary gland
- Improves blood circulation
- Burns fat around the gut
- Reduces stress, fatigue
- Good remedy for backache, headache, insomnia and sinusitis
- Good for those having infertility and for relieving the symptoms of menopause
- Increases blood flow to the head, improves memory and intellectual power
Impact on Chakras
Halasana activates or balances the fifth chakra i.e. Vishuddha Chakra or throat chakra. Therefore it has its positive impact and benefits not only at the physical plane but also at the spiritual plane.
Who should not do? (Contraindications and precautions for doing Halasana)
Patients suffering from below mentioned conditions should avoid doing Halasana –
- Neck injury
- High blood pressure
- During menstruation
Pregnant women should avoid doing this asana.
Those having asthma or blood pressure it can be practiced with caution and guidance, with legs supported on the props.
Impact on doshas and tissues
Impact on Doshas – Halasana has an enormous role balancing Vata. Being good for thyroid and parathyroid glands and since it balances Vishuddha Chakra located in throat region; the plough pose can be inferred to have its best controlling action on Udana Vata. Through the same mechanism it is also a good remedy for hypertension.
It has an impact on samana vata as seen by its role in helping the functions of abdominal organs including activation of digestion process. Since it relieves constipation and symptoms of menopause, and is also good for fertility it has its balancing impact on apana vata.
Since halasana is good for spinal nerves, aids good blood circulation and wards off tiredness, it is soothing for vyana vata. By relieving stress it also soothes prana vata.
Impact on tissues – Since the plough pose strengthens the spine and muscles, it is good for the health of muscles and bones and their related channels. Since it helps in blood circulation, it is good for rasa tissue and its channels of transportation.