Plow Pose, or Halasana, is a beneficial yoga asana that stretches the back body and relaxes the nervous system, and calms the mind in preparation for meditation. Learn to incorporate Plow into your yoga practice with detailed instructions, crucial alignment tips, and complementary pose suggestions.
|Erector Spinae (Back)
Rectus Abdominis (Abdomen)
Iliopsoas (Hip flexors)
Hamstrings (Back of the thighs)
Trapezius (Upper back)
Neck muscles (Cervical spine region)
|Stress relief, improved digestion.
|Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)
Fish Pose (Matsyasana)
|Counterposes that follow well:
|Fish Pose (Matsyasana)
Gentle Supine Twist
Corpse Pose (Savasana)
|Throat Chakra (Vishuddha)
|Most helpful prop:
Folded blanket under shoulders - reduces neck strain.
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Low back pain, tight hamstrings, and stress: what do these conditions have in common? They’re all popular reasons why people choose to start practicing yoga. They’re also issues you can relieve with the yoga pose featured here: Plow Pose, or Halasana in Sanskrit.
I’ve personally heard some yogis feel apprehensive about trying Halasana due to its tricky anatomy: some say this position places too much weight on the neck. However, I have found in my practice and teaching that with correct muscle engagement and attention to alignment, Halasana is perfectly safe. And the many benefits are worth the effort!
This article will cover all you need to know about safely practicing Halasana. Roll out your mat, and let’s start at the very beginning.
Watch our recommended steps for entering, holding, and exiting the pose.
- 1 Step-by-Step Guide to Plow Pose
- 2 Contraindications and Safety Precautions
- 3 Plow Pose Yoga Modifications and Variations
- 4 lululemon’s Lift and Lengthen Yoga Block
- 5 Preparatory and Counter Poses for Halasana
- 6 Holistic Benefits of Practicing Plow Pose
- 7 Incorporating Plow Pose Yoga into Your Routine
- 8 Conclusion
- 9 Frequently Asked Questions
Step-by-Step Guide to Plow Pose
Plow Pose is an intermediate, supine inversion that targets the spine and back muscles. Take care to follow these instructions when practicing Halasana.
- Begin lying on your back in Corpse Pose. Rest your arms at your sides, palms pressing into your mat.
- Bring your knees in toward your chest, lifting your feet.
- Press your arms and hands into your mat and engage your lower abdominal muscles to lift your pelvis.
- Roll back, bringing your knees toward your forehead.
- Keep your elbows on the ground and place your hands on your low back, fingers pointing upwards. Stack your hips over your shoulders using your hands and arms as a kickstand.
- With control, slowly straighten your legs, reaching your feet overhead. Depending on your flexibility, you may keep your legs slightly bent, and your toes may or may not touch the ground.
- Hold Halasana for 1 to 3 minutes. Your breath may feel a little constricted, but try to let it flow as normally as possible.
- When ready to release, bend your legs and bring your knees toward your forehead. Remove your hands from your low back and roll down with control, bringing your entire back onto the mat. Place your feet down and extend your legs, returning to Savasana.
Alignment Tips From a Yoga Teacher
Keep these pointers in mind:
- Your neck should be relaxed, not crunched.
- If your knees bend slightly, that’s okay.
- Stack your hips above your shoulders for balance.
- Engage your core muscles and use control when lifting and lowering your legs.
- Don’t force it if your back, hips, or legs are tight. Let gravity do the work of gently drawing your feet toward the floor.
Contraindications and Safety Precautions
Halasana can be risky for some people. If you have any of the following conditions, consult a medical professional before trying this pose.
- Blood Pressure Care: If you have high blood pressure, be aware that the inverted position may temporarily spike your pressure. If you want to practice Halasana, use extreme caution and hold only briefly.
- Pregnancy Concerns: Halasana compresses the abdomen, which makes this asana a no-go for pregnant women.
- Neck or Back injury: Skip Halasana if you’ve had a recent injury like a pulled muscle, herniated disc, or issues with your cervical spine.
Safe Head and Neck Positioning
I wouldn’t be a responsible yoga teacher if I didn’t emphasize critical head and neck care when practicing Plow Pose yoga. To ensure absolute safety, please keep these things in mind:
- Keep your head still. Even if you’re following along with an online class, avoid turning your head to look at the teacher. Even a minor movement may strain your neck muscles.
- Relieve pressure on your cervical vertebrae using a folded blanket or cushion under your neck and shoulders. Even if you don’t usually use props in your yoga practice, it’s worth using one here!
Never ignore discomfort in sensitive areas like the cervical spine or knees. Your body knows best — if something feels off, ease out of the pose with control.
Plow Pose Yoga Modifications and Variations
Everyone, from beginners to advanced yogis, can enjoy the benefits of Halasana by incorporating a prop or adding a variation.
Using props helps make Halasana safer.
- Blankets or cushions can support your neck. If you have concerns about injury or pressure on your neck, adding a blanket under your shoulders is wise.
I’ve found that a folded blanket provides just enough cushioning to protect my neck without losing the stretch’s effectiveness. It’s a minor adjustment with significant benefits. Any blanket will do, but we especially love this Hugger Mugger blanket made from recycled materials!
Not everyone has the same flexibility. A block or chair offers solutions here. If your feet can’t reach the ground behind you, you can place a block under each foot or rest your feet on a chair seat behind you.
lululemon’s Lift and Lengthen Yoga Block
- Half Plow Pose: In this less intense variation, your entire back remains on the floor with your legs extended toward the sky.
- Knees Bent: Instead of extending your legs overhead, keep your legs bent with your knees resting gently on your forehead. You’ll still feel the effects of a relaxing inversion with your hips elevated above your heart.
Hand Placement Options
If you’re comfortable in Halasana, work on your mobility or intensify the stretch with these different arm positions.
- Arms Extended: For a challenge that strengthens your core, extend your arms along the floor with your palms down.
- Shoulder Opener: Reach forward and interlace fingers to open your shoulders.
- Grabbing Toes: Working on flexibility? Try reaching your arms overhead and holding onto your toes.
Preparatory and Counter Poses for Halasana
When practicing Halasana, put together a seamless sequence using these yoga poses.
- Bridge Pose Preparation: Warm up your spine and back muscles with Bridge Pose
- Fish Pose to Balance: Plow Pose is an inverted forward bend that stretches the spine and upper back; to balance out, move into Fish Pose to stretch the chest and front of the body.
- Relaxing Afterwards: After practicing Halasana, try a gentle supine twist. Then, allow your body to relax in Corpse Pose.
- Shoulder Stand to Level-Up: Shoulder Stand is a next-level posture you can try after mastering Plow. It strengthens the hips, core, and back while improving blood flow.
Do you need some pointers on these complementary poses? You can explore additional pose tutorials here.
Holistic Benefits of Practicing Plow Pose
Halasana isn’t just a fantastic back body stretch. It brings many therapeutic benefits.
- Digestive Enhancement: Halasana helps your digestive system. When you take your legs over your head, your abdomen compresses and massages your internal organs. When you release the pose, your organs receive fresh blood flow, helping to move things along the digestive tract.
- Stress Relief: Halasana, like all inversions, is relaxing for the mind. It calms the nervous system, easing mental tension.
- Full-Body Flexibility: Plow Pose stretches everything from the backs of your legs, low back, spine, and even your shoulders, depending on your arm position.
- Thyroid Stimulation: Thyroid and parathyroid glands get a boost from Halasana. These glands control things like metabolism and energy regulation.
Incorporating Plow Pose Yoga into Your Routine
Adding in Halasana as part of your routine takes care. Listen to your body and breathe deeply.
Practice regularly, but don’t rush progress. With time, you’ll deepen into the pose without strain on your neck or low back. Remember, forcing a deep stretch too soon can harm more than help.
The best time for Halasana is at the end of your yoga session. It provides a gentle transition from activity into the final rest of Corpse Pose. Remember to breathe and listen to your body.
Regular practice of Halasana can lead to many long-term benefits, such as reduced back tension, improved circulation, and a calmer nervous system. It’s a transformative experience that induces relaxation and encourages a reflective mind.
Inversions are about shifting your perspective and practicing introspection. As a teacher, I love this yoga pose because it makes inversions accessible to students who cannot balance on their hands.
Try incorporating some Plow Pose yoga into your next session, and consider making it a part of your regular practice.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Plow Pose in yoga?
Plow Pose, or Halasana, is a yoga asana where you lie on your back and stretch your legs over your head until your toes touch the floor behind you.
Are there any risks associated with Plow Pose?
It can strain the neck and back if done improperly or without sufficient warm-up. Use proper muscle engagement, control your movements, and use a blanket for extra cushion under your neck.
Can beginners do Plow Pose?
Beginners should approach Halasana with caution. Start with modifications and use a prop like a chair, block, or blanket as needed until flexibility improves.
What are some benefits of Halasana?
It stretches the entire back and shoulders, stimulates digestion, and promotes relaxation and stress relief.
When should I practice Halasana?
Like other inversions, this asana is a great way to wind down at the end of class or before bedtime. It leaves you feeling physically relaxed, which in turn helps calm the mind.