The plough (Sanskrit: हलासन) is the 3rd asana in the basic Sivananda yoga series of 12 asanas. It follows the Sarvangasana, the shoulderstand. In the plough, your body is bent forward; this stretches your entire spine, particularly your cervical vertebrae and shoulders.
Objective: To stretch your cervical and thoracic regions
- Stretches the back of the body completely, which mobilizes the entire spine,
- Loosens tight hamstrings,
- Stretches the deep and superficial muscles of the back,
- Increases the blood supply to the nerves of the spine,
- Releases tension in the shoulder and neck muscles,
- Helps improve the flexibility of the shoulder joint,
- Improves digestion and helps to overcome constipation by placing pressure on the abdominal area.
- By teaching how to breathe and relax while there is pressure on the front of your body, the plough helps to cope better with any claustrophobia, stress, or sense of being overwhelmed by lack of space in your daily life.
STEP 1 – LEGS OVER
From the Sarvangasana inhale deeply and then exhale and move both legs straight behind your head trying to touch the toes on the floor whilst keeping the knees & legs completely straight.
STEP 2 – LEGS DOWN
Rest your toes on the floor; push the knees away from the forehead to keep your legs straight. When your legs are completely straight and your toes are pointed towards your head, then bring your arms and hands flat on the mat. By pressing down the arms and hands in the mat you can get your spine straighter. Try to keep the arms as close together as possible. Hold for 30 seconds at first, but aim to build up to 2 minutes. If you cannot lower your feet all the way, keep your hands on your back for support.
STEP 3 – COMING OUT
To come out of the posture, lift your feet about 50 cm off the floor whilst keeping your legs straight, bring your arms and hands on the floor and slowly roll down, vertebrae by vertebrae using your arms as a break. Relax in the Corpse pose (Savasana).
MUSCLE USAGE (courtesy of Leslie Kaminoff)
If your toes don’t touch the floor, just keep your legs straight and your hands on your lower back with your legs behind yourhead. Try to hold the posture for at least 5 deep breaths.
When in the pose, interlock your fingers and press both palms firmly against each other. Hold for up to 1 minute.
After you’ve rolled out of the posture, lie back on your back in Savasana before you go on with the counter pose, the fish – MATSYASANA.