Plow pose, or halasna as it’s otherwise known, is a popular full-body yoga stretch aimed at offering new perspectives. The stretch is great at reducing backache and is also perfect to do just before going to sleep as it helps your whole body to relax.
The stretch positions your body upside down so your feet are over your head.
This may sound a little daunting at first, but with regular practice, you’ll be able to fully stretch the thoracic, lumbar, and cervical regions of the spine, as well as release any tension you may hold in the neck and throat.
This position is also great for stretching the shoulders, lengthening the spine, and regulating your breathing, and comes with a whole load of hidden benefits guaranteed to help you feel more centered and relaxed in your own body.
Plow Pose: Step-by-step instructions
These easy-to-follow steps will help guide you through how to achieve the perfect plow pose.
You will need a yoga mat and 3 blankets or a thick cushion to help you perform this stretch.
- Fold your blankets and stack them on top of each other in the middle of your mat or use a cushion of roughly the same height.
- Sitting at the front of your mat, lay back over the blankets which should support your upper back. Make sure that your neck is long and that there is space between the back of your neck and the floor.
- As you exhale, bring your knees into your chest and allow your lower back to sink into the floor. Engage your core and draw your stomach towards your spine to reduce any arching of your back.
- Inhale and straighten your legs towards the ceiling.
- Placing both of your hands on your mid/lower back for support, engage your core and aim to lift your hips off the floor. Roll your body towards the ceiling so your hips are stacked above your shoulders, which will support your body weight at this moment.
- When you feel you have control, slowly lower your legs down towards the ground behind your head. Aim to keep your feet flexed with your toes resting on the ground.
- Once you are comfortable in this position, release your hands and stretch them out. Either place your hands with your palms down on the ground or keep your hands clasped and stretch them out. You should use your outer upper arms and shoulders for stability in this position.
- Hold this position for at least 5 deep breaths.
- Once you are ready, exit this position by releasing your arms from their stretch and pressing them into your mat for support. Very slowly allow your body to roll down, releasing one vertebra at a time and making sure your spine is in contact with your mat.
- Once you have fully unrolled your spine, take a few deep breaths to allow your body to relax and settle back into its normal position.
For those new to this pose, there is also the following variation you can try which still allows you to receive the same benefits of this stretch but without putting so much weight on your neck.
- On your mat, lie down with your feet flat on the floor and your knees up.
- Lift your hips off the floor and place a yoga block under your sacrum. When you are comfortable, raise your legs straight up and remain in this position for at least 5 deep breaths.
- When ready to exit this position, lower your legs, remove the block and gently unroll, releasing one vertebra at a time.
- Take a few deep breaths when laying flat to allow your spine to return to its normal position.
If you are struggling with placing your toes on the floor, using a wall to help is a great way to practice this stretch. Position your mat in front of a wall and reaching the wall with your feet, slowly walk down the wall.
Aim to walk your feet a little further down the wall each time you practice and before you know it, your toes will be reaching the floor.
Plow Pose: Benefits
This pose has a huge amount of benefits, not only for the body but also for the mind.
Improves the digestive system
This pose is an effective remedy for several stomach disorders, such as constipation, indigestion, and many more. The plow pose helps to strengthen the colon and through gentle massage, can stimulate the digestive system resulting in the proper digestion and absorption of food.
This position can help with back pain by releasing the stress from back muscles through a proper posture massage. It helps to improve the strength of the spinal cord and enhances the flexibility of back muscles, resulting in reducing any pain issues.
This position is great for reducing anxiety and stress. By concentrating on your breathing while in this position, you can help your mind to relax and break down any mental barriers you may be struggling with.
Helps with Diabetes
Performing this pose helps to stimulate the system to restrict the excess production of blood sugar. It’s a proven effective way of managing the existing sugar level and keeping diabetes in check.
Stimulates Thyroid Glands
The plow pose helps stimulate the endocrine system by reversing the flow of your body’s blood.
When this happens, the blood can reach the extreme upper glands, such as the pituitary gland in the head and the thyroid gland in the neck. This improved blood circulation helps to better manage the function of the thyroid gland.
Helps with Leg Cramps
The plow pose helps with the flexibility of several muscles which each contribute to leg cramps. By stretching the calf, thigh, and leg muscles, this stretch is a great way to keep those leg cramps at bay.
Strengthens the immune system
By helping to circulate blood to the tip of every nerve in your body, the plow pose strengthens both the system and flexibility of each muscle which results in an improved immune system.