Hala= Plough ; Asana= Posture
In an agrarian indian society, plough is considered to be a very sacred instrument as it helps in preparing the land for new farming. Plough is pointed at the bottom end attached to a long shaft. The vertical section which is pointed at the bottom has to be grounded in order for the shaft to pull it allowing the soil to be shuffled nicely. Similarly in Halasana, grounding of torso and extension of legs gives the body the shape of a plough. It works on extension of the entire spinal column giving it length and aligning the deeper component of this complex structure. The torso has to be grounded and legs necessarily to be stretched. There are two methods in which Halasana is performed along with several variations. Here we will explain the asana performed individually. In the other method it is performed as a flow sequence with Sarvangasana (shoulder stand).
How to do it?
1. The base position for Halasana is supine. Lie down in a relaxed manner with legs and hands attached to the body.
2. Inhale deeply, hold the breath inside and raise the legs to a vertical position. Continue breathing normally hereafter. Don’t forget to acknowledge the engagement and utilisation of abdominal muscles in this action.
3. As you get comfortable here, inhale, hold the breath and contracting the abdomen further, lift the torso off the floor, while bringing the legs parellel to the floor. Try to reach a to a vertical alignment of the entire torso from neck to pelvis from the floor. For those its difficult to engage the abdomen, they can support the base of sacrum with their hands at the back.
4. Breath in deeply, give full extension to the spine, and try to touch the feet to the floor with toes tucked in towards the head, while exhaling. You will need a very strong contraction in your quadriceps to do this as the legs has to kept fully straight and stiff in this position. An initial training in contracting and bracing up the kneecaps would be helpful for this.
5. As a supportive measure, extend the elbows, stretching the arms away from the body after the step 4 has been completed. This will give the required extension for the asana to be effective. Breathe naturally deeper, feeling your ribcage expanding and contracting. This will help in ensuring the adequate blood flow to the deeper corners of the spinal column and related muscles. Also its helps in massaging the organs of the digestive system.
6. Stay in the pose for minimum 30 seconds. While coming out, support the hands on the back and slowly release the tension of the legs, gently bringing the spinal column back to the floor. You will need to use your abdominal control to achieve a smooth transition out of the asana. Once you are in supine position, relax the entire body and Breathe. !!
Practise Note: Beginners will find it difficult initially to touch the feet to the floor. As a variation of the asana, they may find a chair useful to put it behind the head. Place it at a proper distance so that the feet can reach easily on the seat of hte chair.
- Halasana is considered one of the most effective posture in maintaining spinal health and flexibility. A flexible spinal column gives us more freedom in our movements and functioning. Halasana helps achieve that.
- In Spinal compression and disc diseases Halasana is used therapeutically but with precaution and extreme care. Best under expert supervision.
- Regular practice Halasana helps eradicating the problems of reproductive system and relieves menstrual discomforts.
- Stretches all muscles and ligament in your calves and thighs, resulting in greater leg flexibility
- Therapeutic for leg cramps
- Stimulates your thyroid, parathyroid, throat, lungs and abdominal organs
- Helps relieve gas and upper/lower back pain or discomfort
- Promotes good digestion
- Stretches your shoulders and spine
- Therapeutic for menopause, infertility, insomnia, headache and sinusitis
- Relieves stress and fatigue
Please remember that this blog post is for informative purpose. You must practise all the techniques of yoga under an expert guidance all the time to reap out the maximum benefits.