Plow Pose, or Halasana in Sanskrit, is an inverted yoga pose that stretches, strengthens, and relaxes your body. It’s an intermediate pose that you can modify to suit your needs.
Read on to learn how to do Halasana, its benefits, and modification options.
Halasana is a classic yoga pose — or asana in Sanskrit — that’s included in many types of yoga practices. It involves lying on your back and placing your feet on the floor behind your head. Typically you do Halasana toward the end of a yoga session. However, it’s the third of 12 basic asanas in the Sivananda sequence (1).
Halasana is an inversion, which means your heart is positioned above your head. This type of position offers several benefits. Halasana boosts circulation, improves blood pressure, and lowers blood sugar levels, which is helpful for diabetes management (
Halasana stretches your spine and stretches, strengthens, and tones your back muscles. It helps prevent and relieve tightness in your neck, shoulders, and back. The pose also strengthens your shoulders, arms, and legs.
Practicing Halasana enhances flexibility, which improves muscle and joint mobility (
It also makes your spine more supple, which may help ease muscle tension and improve posture. Increasing flexibility can also reduce your chance of injury and improve your everyday and athletic movements.
Halasana also stimulates digestion, so it may be useful for constipation.
Plow Pose allows you to relax, which helps relieve stress and tension, both physically and mentally. Giving yourself time to relax may help you feel more rested and at ease. In turn, you may find it easier to fall asleep and sleep deeply.
Anecdotally, it’s often said that turning your body upside down during inversions can spark new ways of thinking, offer a fresh perspective, or boost your mood. You may wish to experiment with this as part of your practice.
To do Halasana:
- Lie on your back with your arms next to your body and palms pressing into the floor.
- As you inhale, lift your legs to 90 degrees.
- As you exhale, roll your pelvis off the floor, moving your legs back toward your head. Slowly lower your legs over your head, toward the floor.
- Position your hands on your lower back for support.
- Align your pinky fingers on either side of your spine, with fingers pointing up toward the ceiling.
- Walk your hands up your spine to elevate your spine.
- Draw your shoulder blades and elbows in as close together as possible.
- If your toes reach the floor, you can release your arms alongside your body with palms down or interlace your fingers.
- Hold this position for up to 2 minutes.
- To release, reposition your hands alongside your body with palms down.
- As you exhale, slowly roll your spine back down to the floor.
- Pause with your legs extended to 90 degrees.
- As you exhale, engage your abdominals and slowly lower your legs to the floor, or simply bend your knees and place your feet on the floor.
- During the pose, extend your arms overhead and take hold of your calves, ankles, or feet.
- To do Parsva Halasana (Side Plow Pose), keep your hands on your back for support. Walk your feet to the right, pausing here for up to 1 minute. Walk your feet back to the center, pausing here for a moment. Then walk your feet to left, pausing here for up to 1 minute. Walk your feet back to the center.
- To move into Karnapidasana (Ear Pressure Pose), bend your knees toward the floor and place them alongside your ears.
- Walk your feet out wide to come into Supta Konasana (Reclining Angle Posture).
- Keep your neck in line with your spine while looking upward.
- Try to rest your weight on your upper shoulders, not your neck and head.
- Don’t move your neck from side to side or turn to look in another direction while your feet are overhead.
- If it’s not possible to place your hands on your spine, you may place them on the sides of your hips.
- For greater comfort and ease, bend your knees slightly.
- Tuck your chin into your chest, putting slight pressure on your chest.
- Notice if you’re yielding your weight onto one side more than the other and adjust accordingly.
- Activate your shoulder and arm muscles to keep from putting too much pressure on your neck.
- For spinal alignment, you have the option to press your toes into the floor to lengthen your spine or to purposely round your back.
- Keep your hands on your back for support if your toes don’t reach the floor.
Usually, you practice inversions toward the end of your practice. However, if you’re usually tired or worn out at the end of your session, you may wish to do inversions a bit earlier. That way you’ll have enough energy and strength to do the poses safely.
Typically Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand) is practiced before Halasana since Halasana puts more pressure on your spine. You can counter Sarvangasana and Halasana with Matsyasana (Fish Pose), gentle spinal rolls such as Bitilasana Marjaryasana (Cat-Cow Pose), and a gentle forward bend.
There are several ways to modify Halasana.
For added comfort and support, you can use a folded blanket or mat under your shoulders. Line up the edge with the top of your shoulders. This alleviates pressure on your neck, reduces neck flexion, and allows the back of your neck to soften.
If your toes don’t reach the floor, you can rest your feet on a cushion, block, or chair seat. You can also place your feet against a wall.
Halasana and other inversions offer immense benefits, but they are not a requirement for any yoga practice. Halasana can provide a deep, relaxing stretch, but you must find your sweet spot in terms of comfort.
Always listen to your body and practice Halasana safely. Avoid holding inversions for too long.
Don’t do Halasana if you have any neck, blood pressure, or digestive issues. If you have concerns about blood rushing to your head, such as sinus, ear, or eye issues, avoid this pose.
Halasana is not recommended if you are menstruating or pregnant. If you’re feeling weak or fatigued, save Halasana for another day.
Putting pressure on your head and neck while your heart is higher than your head may cause or worsen headache symptoms. If you get headaches often, you may wish to avoid inversions altogether or do them for a short time.
Typically your body is less flexible when you first wake up. You may especially notice this change in flexibility during Halasana.
If it’s early morning and you’re used to practicing in the evening, remember that you may not be able to go as deep as you normally do. Listen to your body and modify if needed.
Halasana is a relaxing, strengthening pose that provides a deep stretch to your spine and back muscles. You can do it on its own, as part of a mini-sequence, or during a longer session.
While Halasana is moderately challenging, you can make adjustments so it works for you.
If Halasana isn’t for you but you still want to enjoy the benefits of an inversion, you can experiment with Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand) or Viparita Karani (Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose) or try out an inversion sling or inversion therapy.
Talk with your doctor before starting any new yoga program if you have any medical concerns or take any medications.