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How to Practice Halasana

How to Practice Halasana

What is Halasana? 

The name ‘Halasana’ comes from the Sanskrit word “hala” and meaning a ‘Plow’. The asana represents a plow, and it is one of the classical asanas described and illustrated in the 19th century texts as Lāṇgalāsana. A plow is a popular farming tool commonly used in agriculture to prepare the soil for sowing crops. Like all asana names, the posture resembles the qualities of what it represents. Halasana prepares the body and mind for deeper practices by providing rejuvenation and relaxation. 

The asana is an inverted forward fold and a full back stretch. It stretches the entire spine, relieves and strengthens the back and tones the muscles. It is good for the abdominal organs as well as the respiratory system. It boosts circulation, improves blood pressure and lowers blood sugar levels. This is a great posture to improve flexibility, and muscle and joint movement, improving stability and balance in everyday life. The relaxing effect it has on the mind and body releases stress and tension, improving sleep, mood and energy.

Spinal bend type: forward bend 

Posture type: Inversion 

Ideal for: Flexibility 

Targets: Neck and upper back 

Pose level: Intermediate


How can you prepare for the asana 

Hip flexibility

For Halasana, hip flexibility is important. Practicing standing triangle pose, lunges and simple hip openers like bound angle pose, garland pose and pigeon pose regularly can help develop hip flexibility. 

Bound Angle Pose

Lower back flexibility

With hip flexibility, back flexibility is also important for the asana. Practicing backbends like camel pose, cobra pose, locust pose and forward bends like seated forward fold and standing forward fold will improve back flexibility. You can also practice forward folds like Paschimottanasana. 

Cobra Pose

Core and leg strength

Developing strength is always helpful. It helps you hold the posture for longer with ease and comfort. For this, regular practice of triangle pose, warrior series, boat pose and plank are important. 

Triangle Pose

How to practice Halasana 

Now that we have learned how to prepare for halasana, lets learn more about the halasana procedure, benefits and contraindications.

Getting into the posture

We have broken down the steps of halasana in such a way that its easier for you to complete the posture safely.

  1. Lie on the back with your arms by the side of the body.
  2. Inhale and gently raise both the legs with the help of your core muscles. Slowly lift the buttocks away from the floor and bring the legs vertically to a 90-degree angle. 
  3. As you continue breathing normally, gently lower the legs over the head and let the toes touch the ground. When you do this, support your hips and back with your hands. 
  4. Your back should be perpendicular to the floor. It might take a few seconds to adjust and get this right. Now place the palms on the mat with your palms facing down or keep them interlocked. 
  5. Hold the posture for as long as comfortable keeping your breath steady and relaxed. 

Getting out of the posture

After staying in the posture for a few breaths (or as long as comfortable for you), roll the spine and and gently lower legs to floor.

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What are the benefits of Halasana? 

The asana strengthens the abdominal muscles and tones the spinal nerves. It also increases blood circulation, calming the nervous system and reducing stress and fatigue. It strengthens and opens up the neck, shoulders, abs and back muscles. It’s good for flexibility, especially in the legs and hips. It also regulates the thyroid gland and strengthens the immune system. 

What are the contraindications of Halasana? 

Anyone with high blood pressure, slipped disc, sciatica, back pain, shoulder or any neck issues should avoid the asana. Women who are menstruating should also avoid practicing. 

Counter poses of Halasana 

Since the neck gets contracted in this posture, it is good to practice Matsyasana, the fish pose for a minute or two. Practicing this will extend the neck region bringing it back to a normal and balanced state. 

Halasana variations

Here are 2 halasana variations that you can practice, the first variation is beginner friendly and the second is for advanced practitioners.

Easy variation

As a beginner, keep the knees bent and try to reach the toes towards the floor. If that is not possible, you can reach as far over the head as possible. You can also support the lower back with the hands. 

Advance variation

In the advanced version, you can also attempt to hold the toes instead of keeping the hands down. 

Advice for beginners

Keep the knees away from the head. If it is difficult, try starting by bending the knees. Gradually, as your muscles loosen up and flexibility improves, you will be able to hold the position. Keep the legs together, using the abdominal muscles. If it is difficult to place the legs on the ground above the head, bring them as close as you can to the ground. With practice, once flexibility improves, you’ll be able to touch the ground. 

Practice tips for Halasana

  1. Avoid curving of the spine 
  2. If it is possible to keep the knees straight, then care should be taken to straighten the knees 
  3. Always keep space between the back of the neck and the floor to avoid any pressure on the cervical region
  4. Be gentle and avoid rolling the spine too hard or with any jerks

Shvasa Tip 

  1. Always learn and practice the asana live with a teacher to know the right variations and progress in an injury-free manner.
  2. Be gentle. The bend can be intense on the spine and hips so avoid any jerks or sudden movements.
  3. If it’s taking time don’t get demotivated. Work on hip flexibility and slowly you’ll begin to notice your progression. 
What are the steps of Halasana?
Halasana, or Plow Pose, is a traditional yoga pose that stretches the spine and shoulders while stimulating the abdominal organs. To perform Halasana, start by lying flat on your back on a yoga mat with your arms by your side, palms facing down. Inhale and use your abdominal muscles to lift your feet off the floor, raising your legs vertically at a 90-degree angle. Continue to breathe normally, and supporting your hips and back with your hands, lift them off the ground. Allow your legs to sweep in a 180-degree arc over your head until your toes touch the floor behind your head. Keep your feet together, and ensure that your chin is tucked into your chest, creating a 'chin lock'. Hold this pose for as long as it feels comfortable, generally up to 5 minutes for advanced practitioners. To release, support your back with your hands and slowly roll your spine back onto the mat, dropping your legs down gently.
How should I prepare for Halasana?
Preparing for Halasana involves increasing flexibility and strength in your spine, hamstrings, shoulders, and core. Regularly incorporate poses such as Uttanasana, Adho Mukha Svanasana, and Salabhasana into your yoga practice to enhance these attributes. Before performing Halasana, warm up with gentle spinal twists and hamstring stretches, and practice shoulder-opening poses like Gomukhasana. Initial practice near a wall can also be helpful. Always listen to your body's signals and don't force yourself into the pose. Ensure you're under the guidance of a certified yoga instructor, especially if you're new to yoga or have health concerns.
What are the 5 benefits of Halasana?
Halasana, or Plow Pose, is a traditional yoga inversion that offers numerous physical and mental benefits. Firstly, it provides a deep stretch to the back and hamstrings, improving flexibility and helping to alleviate backache. Secondly, it stimulates the abdominal organs and thyroid gland, which can boost metabolism and aid in digestion. Thirdly, the pose can also enhance blood flow to the brain, providing it with more oxygen and nutrients, potentially improving concentration and mental clarity. Fourthly, the compression of the throat in Halasana stimulates the parathyroid glands, which helps regulate calcium metabolism in the body. Finally, as with many yoga poses, Halasana can help reduce stress and anxiety. By focusing on the pose and the breath, it cultivates mindfulness and promotes a sense of calm and relaxation.
Who Cannot perform Halasana?
Anyone with high blood pressure, slipped disc, sciatica, back pain, shoulder or any neck issues should avoid the asana. Women who are menstruating should also avoid practicing.

How to Practice Halasana
Pradeep Sattamaya

Pradeep is the Global Head of Yoga at Shvasa. He is currently pursuing his studies in Yoga texts, Ayurveda and modern Neuroscience. Pradeep successfully built a chain of yoga studios in Bangalore which was later acquired by a major Health/Fitness brand. He currently resides in Mysore, a heritage city with a close connection to Yoga traditions. Pradeep Sattwamaya (Deep) had the blessed opportunity to be accepted as a disciple by his guru, ParamhamsaSwami Niranjanananda Saraswati ( In the Sanyasa lineage of Shri AdiShankara, Swami Swami Sivananda, Swami Satyananda ). Pradeep spend two full years living and imbibing yoga at Gangadarshan, a traditional Yoga gurukula along the banks of river Ganga in Bihar. He completed first 12 year phase of discipleship in 2016. Pradeep has also practiced and closely studied the Mysore Astanga Yoga and Iyengar Yoga.

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