Instructor: Sarah N.
Sarah has completed an intensive yoga teacher training program in Pune, India at the BKS Iyengar Yoga Institute. She has been inspired to continue practicing and teaching yoga for life.

Plow Pose: Step-by-Step Instructions


Plow Pose (Halasana) is exceptional for reducing lower back pain and helping you get a good night's rest.

Step by Step Pose Information Benefits Variations Partnering

Halasana

(Pronounced as "hah-LAHS-anna")

The Sanskrit word Hala means "plow," and here your body assumes the shape of a farmer's plow.

How to do Plow Pose

Step One

Get into Shoulder Stand or Salamba Sarvangasana. From there, bend your hips to slowly lower your feet down, bringing the toes over the head. It is best to keep the legs straight as your place the toes behind your head on the floor. If your hamstrings are very tight though, then you can bend your knees as you lower the legs down. Then practice straightening one leg at a time once both feet have contact with the floor.

Step Two

Tighten your knees as you push your sitting bones and tailbone up toward the ceiling as high as you can. While you push the backs of the thighs and sitting bones up, your torso should naturally come toward your chin. Expand your chest so that your sternum lifts to meet your chin. Do not push your chin into your sternum. Relax your throat. Press your shoulder bones strongly into the mat to lift pressure off of the back of your neck.

Step Three

Adjust your hands so that the bottoms of your palms press into your back just below the bottom of your ribcage. In this position, your elbows and the backs of your upper arms rest on the mat or any support you have used for your shoulders in the Shoulder Stand. Use your hands to lift your trunk, holding it perpendicular to the ground.

If you can hold this pose for more than a minute, then go ahead and release your hands away from your back. Then stretch your arms out away from your back behind you on the floor. Interlock your fingers together and press your arms down into the floor as you keep lifting your sitting bones up.

Step Four

Gradually increase the duration of the pose up to 5 minutes. To come out, support your back with your hands and slowly roll your sacrum down to the ground.

Beginner's Tip:

At first, you will have a tendency to collapse your weight onto the vertebrate where the bottom of your neck meets your shoulders. That wrong positioning puts too much strain on your neck. Train your shoulders to protect your neck by practicing the pose on blankets. Lay part of your yoga mat on top of two folded yoga blankets so that your shoulders will not slip on this support.

Place a yoga block on the ground next to the middle of the blankets. Now when you lie down on this support, your head and most of your neck rest off of the edge of the blankets. Your shoulders press into the blankets near the edge, and the rest of your back is on the blankets with the block forming the support under your tailbone. Now come into the pose as usual.

Pose Information

Sanskrit Name:

Halasana

Pose Level:

Level 1

Contraindications and Cautions

  • Conditions causing irregular bowel movements like diarrhea
  • Menstruation
  • Ischemia
  • Cervical spondylosis
  • Neck injury
  • For asthma or high blood pressure: Practice Halasana by putting your legs up on a chair, preferably under the supervision of an experienced yoga teacher.
  • For pregnancy: Only if you have regularly practiced this pose before you became pregnant, then you can continue it through the first trimester and possibly longer with the guidance of an experienced yoga instructor.

Modifications and Props:

When you first learn this pose, it is safer to practice it with a chair. Brace a sturdy chair against the wall. Place two folded yoga blankets on the ground about 1-2 feet away from the chair. Lie down so that your head is on the ground and your shoulders are near the edge of the blankets. The chair should be behind your head when you lie down. Now when you kick your feet up into a Shoulder Stand and then lower your feet down over your head, your toes will rest on the seat of the chair. You can adjust the distance between the blankets and the chair to accommodate your height.

Deepen the Pose:

When you are in the full pose, bring your shoulder blades closer together. Then try gently bending one knee at a time to let the knees almost touch the floor by the sides of your head, which pulls your torso up more toward your chin. Alternate the legs between bending and straightening to feel this adjustment.

Benefits:

  • Relieves backaches
  • Rejuvenates the abdominal organs
  • Calms the brain
  • Relieves fatigue
  • Releases tension in the shoulders
  • Improves the symptoms of hypertension

Partnering:

To master the lifting of the front of your thighs in this posture, ask a partner to help you do this pose with a chair. As you come into Halasana in the normal way, ideally with your shoulders supported by blankets, ask your partner to help lift your feet up onto the seat of a chair. Now have them slowly help lift your legs as they slide the chair closer to your head. Eventually, they should position the chair so that the side edge of the chair's seat supports the root of the tops of your thighs. Focus on pushing your sitting bones up to the ceiling in this position.

Variations:

If you can do Halasana comfortably with your feet on the floor, then you can move on to try this variation. Parsva Halasana, pronounced as "PARSH-vah hah-LAHS-anna," is the same thing, but you move your legs out to the side. After you come into the full Halasana, just hold your hands against your back for support as you walk your feet out to the right side. The goal is to bring the feet all the way to the right so that they are in line with your right ear on the floor. Keep your legs straight and twist your torso as you come into it. Then repeat it with your feet walking to the left side. Hold the pose for about 30 seconds or more on each side.

Next Pose:

Side Reclining Leg Lift Pose

9 styles | 152 poses

Beginner Yoga Poses

Bharadvaja's Twist Pose
Big Toe Pose
Boat Pose
Bound Angle Pose
Bow Pose
Bridge Pose
Camel Pose
Cat Pose
Chair Pose
Child's Pose
Cobra Pose
Corpse Pose
Cow Pose
Cow Face Pose
Crow Pose
Dolphin Plank Pose
Downward Dog Pose
Eagle Pose
Eight Angle Pose
Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose
Extended Puppy Pose
Extended Side Angle Pose
Firefly Pose
Fish Pose
Garland Pose
Half Frog Pose
Half Lord of the Fishes Pose
Half Moon Pose
Yoga Handstand
Happy Baby Pose
Head To Knee Pose
High Lunge Pose
Legs Up The Wall Pose
Locust Pose
Lotus Pose
Shoulder Pressing Pose
Low Lunge Pose
Monkey Pose
Mountain Pose
Noose Pose
Plank Pose
Plow Pose
Sage Koundinya I Pose
Sage Marichi's Pose
Reclining Bound Angle Pose
Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose
Revolved Triangle Pose
Revolved Head to Knee Pose
Reclining Hero Pose
Scale Pose
Side Reclining Leg Lift Pose
Peacock Pose
Pyramid Pose
Crescent Lunge Pose
Heron Pose
Hero Pose
Feathered Peacock Pose
Staff Pose
Seated Forward Bend Pose
Four Limbed Staff Pose
Revolved Side Angle Pose
Wild Thing Pose
Side Crow Pose
Side Plank Pose
Sphinx Pose
Supported Headstand (Sirsasana)
Tree Pose
Standing Split
Supported Shoulderstand
Standing Half Forward Bend
Triangle Pose
Upward Plank Pose
Upward Facing Two Foot Staff Pose
Wheel Pose
Upward Salute Pose
Upward Facing Dog Pose
Warrior I Pose
Warrior II Pose
Warrior III Pose
Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend
Easy Pose
Gate Pose
Wide Legged Forward Fold
Dancer Pose
One-Legged King Pigeon Pose
One-Legged King Pigeon Pose II
Marichi's Pose
Fire Log Pose
Standing Forward Bend
Pose Dedicated to the Sage Koundinya II

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