Halasana - The Plough

Asana practice in Yoga Meditation is quite different from that of modern yoga studios. Halasana, the Plough is described here for those participating in Yoga Mentoring with Radhikaji.

Halasana, the plough is a very difficult asana. It is best to progressively move through all the levels of preparation before attempting the final pose. This pose is not only good for the lower back and stomach muscles, it also completely transforms the energy flow in the body. Reversing the energy flow is an important step leading to higher states of meditation.

Care must be take to practice this posture correctly. Incorrectly practiced the Plough can cause serious physical injuries as well as agitate the nervous system and subtle energy channels of the body. It is important that you master each preparatory pose before you move on to the next. You should know your own limits. If you are not sure seek the guidance of your teacher.

Preparatory Pose 1: Single Leg Lifts

Lie on the back with legs together, flat on the floor. Place the arms along the sides of the body with the palms on the floor.

Inhaling, slowly raise the right leg as high as possible. Do not bend the knee.

Keep the shoulders, arms and hands relaxed. Do not press the arms against the floor while lifting the leg. While raising the right leg do not bend the opposite leg, keep it straight on the floor. 

Breathe normally, holding this position for 10 seconds  or as long as possible. 

Exhaling lower the leg.

Repeat with the left leg. 

After about two weeks of practicing Preparatory Pose 1 daily or whenever ready for the next level, move on to Preparatory Pose 2.

Preparatory Pose 2

Lie on the back with legs together, flat on the floor. Place the arms along the sides of the body with the palms on the floor.

Inhaling, raise the right leg about 10 cms from the floor. Do not bend the knee. 

Keep the shoulders, arms and hands relaxed. Do not press the arms against the floor while lifting the leg. While raising the right leg do not bend the opposite leg, keep it straight on the floor. Feel the weight of the leg being lifted by the abdominal muscles.

Breathe normally, holding this position for 10 seconds or as long as possible. 

Exhaling lower the leg.

Repeat with the left leg. 

After about two weeks of practicing Preparatory Pose 2 daily or whenever ready for the next level, move on to Preparatory Pose 3.

Preparatory Pose 3

Lie on the back with legs together, flat on the floor. Place the arms along the sides of the body with the palms on the floor.

Inhaling, raise the right leg at 45 degrees from the floor. Do not bend the knee.

Keep the shoulders, arms and hands relaxed. Do not press the arms against the floor while lifting the leg. While raising the right leg do not bend the opposite leg, keep it straight on the floor. Feel the weight of the leg being lifted by the abdominal muscles. 

Breathe normally, holding this position for 10 seconds or as long as possible. 

Exhaling lower the leg.

Repeat with the left leg. 

After about two weeks of practicing Preparatory Pose 3 daily or whenever ready for the next level, move on to Preparatory Pose 4.

Preparatory Pose 4

Lie on the back with legs together, flat on the floor. Place the arms along the sides of the body with the palms on the floor.

Inhaling, raise the right leg until it is 90 degrees to the floor. Do not bend the knee.

Keep the shoulders, arms and hands relaxed. Do not press the arms against the floor while lifting the leg. While raising the right leg do not bend the opposite leg, keep it straight on the floor. 

Breathe normally, holding this position for 10 seconds or as long as possible. 

Exhaling lower the leg.

Repeat with the left leg. 

After about two weeks of practicing Preparatory Pose 4 daily or whenever ready for the next level, move on to Preparatory Pose 5.

Preparatory Pose 5: Double Leg Lifts

Lie on the back with legs together, flat on the floor. Place the arms along the sides of the body with the palms on the floor.

Inhaling, raise both legs about 10 cms from the floor. Do not bend the knees. 

Hold this position for 10 seconds. 

Inhaling, raise both legs higher, holding the position at 45 degrees from the floor for about 10 seconds. Do not bend the knees.

Inhaling, raise both legs still higher until they are 90 degrees to the floor. Do not bend the knees. Keep the shoulders, arms and hands relaxed. Do not press the arms against the floor while lifting the legs. 

Breathe normally, holding this position for 10 seconds or as long as possible.

Exhaling lower both legs. 

Do the Preparatory pose 5 for at least 2 weeks. This is an important step for mastering both Halasana, the Plough as well as Sirsasana, the Headstand. 

Preparatory Pose 6: Ardha Halasana, the Half Plough

Lie on the back with legs together, flat on the floor. Place the arms along the sides of the body with the palms on the floor.

Inhaling, raise both legs until they are 90 degrees to the floor. Do not bend the knees. Keep the shoulders, arms and hands relaxed. Do not press the arms against the floor while lifting the legs. 

Now raise the hips off the floor, using the strength of your stomach muscles. Do not push your hips up with your hands. If you cannot raise your hips without using the support of your hands, then return to the Preparatory Pose 5, the Double Leg Lifts. 

Keeping the legs straight and together, extend the feet beyond the head until the legs are parallel to the floor. 

Breathe normally and hold this position for 15 seconds or as long as it is comfortable. 

Keep your hands and arms on the floor, using them only to maintain the balance.

Exhaling lower the hips and return the legs to the perpendicular position and eventually lower the legs to the floor.

Practice Ardha Halasana daily for at least a week before attempting Halasana, the Plough.

Halasana: The Plough

Lie on the back with legs together, flat on the floor. Place the arms along the sides of the body with the palms on the floor.

Inhaling, raise both legs until they are 90 degrees to the floor. Do not bend the knees. Keep the shoulders, arms and hands relaxed. Do not press the arms against the floor while lifting the legs. 

Now using the strength of your stomach muscles, raise the hips off the floor, keeping the legs straight and together. 

Extend the feet beyond the head until the legs are parallel to the floor. Now allow gravity to do the work for you, let the weight of the legs gently fall to the floor until the toes touch the floor behind the head. Do not bend the knees. If you have to bend your knees, return to Ardha Halasana, the Half Plough.

Breathe normally. Hold this pose for 10 seconds or as long as possible. 

Exhaling lower the hips and return the legs to the perpendicular position and eventually lower the legs to the floor.

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