Halasana: The Plough
Halasana is fantastic for relieving lower back pain and for calming the mind. Read here for more benefits. Halasana follows Sarvangasana. It is recommended that Halasana is done for half the time as Sarvangasana, but this is a general recommendation. As always, listen to your body. If it feels good, stay in it longer, if there is pain, come out of it sooner.
From Sarvangasna, allow your legs to fall behind you. If you were unable to lift your legs over your head in Sarvangasana, just bring your legs to your chest and keep the bolster under your hips. Use your hands to pull your legs against your chest to increase or decrease the stretch.
Pay attention to your neck and let your legs stop where they want to. Do not force this posture. If your toes touch the ground, you can bring your hands down to support you. Focus on trying to bring your heels to the ground and your hips up. It is common to see a rounded back and collapsed hips in this posture, but try and maintain a straight back and elevated hips. You’ll notice a difference in the stretch and it takes the pressure off the neck.
Breathe deep and from the belly. Close your eyes and stretch a bit further with each exhalation, but keep your back straight. At the end of the posture, SLOWLY come down with palms facing down. If this is difficult, place your hands above your head to help counter your body weight and allow yourself to come to the floor slowly.
Once you get the basic Halasana down and the flexibility in your back increases, feel free to try the following variations out. Just be sure to listen to your body and don’t push yourself behind your limits. Yoga is about accepting and relaxing into a challenge, not force.
If you feel comfortable in Halasana, allow your knees to come down next to your ears. Bit by bit bring the knees closer to your shoulders until they touch. Congratulations you have just completed Karnapidasana!
If Karnapidasana is easy, allow yourself to go a bit further by bringing your hand underneath your head and over your calf muscles. Interlace your fingers and remember to breathe.
Finally, if you can succeed in the above postures without issue, you may be ready to bring your knees behind your head. From Halasana, after stretching your back and attempting to bring your heels to the floor, bend your knees and slowly allow the weight of your bent legs to come down and rest on the floor. Your knees should be touching the crown of your head. Pay close attention to your body here and come out VERY slowly the moment you feel any pain or discomfort.