Analysis of Halasana

Halasana also known as the plough pose.Hala meaning “Plough” and Asana = “posture”.

It is can also be called a forward bend while lying on your back which helps to strength the spine and make it more flexible.

It is usually done as a continuation of Sarvangasana (shoulder stand).

Benefits and positive effects  

  • Provides a good stretch to the thoracic vertebra and increases flexibility
  • Promotes the efficiency of the spleen and heart
  • Helps with digestive and gut related health problems
  • Good for pelvic region and any menstrual problems
  • It results in the mobility of the back to perform Paschimottasana (seated forward bend) as well.

Suggested warm up poses 

  • Uttanasana (standing forward bend)
  • Paschimottasana (seated forward bend)
  • Sarvangasana (shoulder stand)
  • Sethu bandhansana (Bridge pose)

The muscles benefitted 

  • Lower Back
  • Middle Back
  • Upper Back
  • Core (Abs)
  • Hamstrings
  • Hips
  • Neck
  • Pelvic

Technique to get into the pose

  1. Lie flat on your back, with the palms firmly on the ground beside your body.
  2. Inhale and slowly lift your legs off the mat using the strength of your waist without bending the knees.
  3. Continue raising the lower body off the mat, until your chest is also off the ground into shoulder stand pose with chin touching the sternum
  4. Exhale to release the chin lock, lower the waist slightly, moving your arms and legs over the head and finally the toes resting on the floor. 
  5. If touching your feet over head isn’t possible at the start, place a chair or any object behind you to attain the furthest distance possible and over time you can go lower. This variation is also helpful for anyone suffering with blood pressure issues.
  6. Continue to breath here as you keep your knees straight by tightening your hamstring muscles and raising your trunk
  7. Exhale and stretch your arms in the opposite direction of your legs
  8. Interlock the finger with the wrist on the floor OR Stretch the palms on the floor as you pull your shoulder forward.
  9. With the legs and hands stretched in the opposite direction feel the spine stretching completely
  10. While interlocking the fingering make sure to change the positions of the thumb and then stretch for a harmonious development and elasticity of both the shoulders. If interlocking the fingers are difficult at the start, do not force as it gets easier with time so start by trying to just place your palms on the floor as mentioned above.
  11. Remain in the attainable pose for as long as you can (maximum up-to 5 minutes) with normal breathing

Technique to get out of the pose

  1. Inhale, Release your palms if interlocked beside your body, raise your legs up to shoulder stand
  2. Exhale and gradually bring your legs down to the mat.
  3. Lie on your back and relax

Gaze 

Throughout the pose gaze at the tip of your nose

Suggested cool down poses

  • Continue to Lie flat on the ground in Savasana
  • Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose)
  • Vipariti Karani (Legs to the wall)

Caution!

Halasana is not recommended for people having the below conditions

  • Extreme Backache
  • Spine and neck Injuries
  • Heart and blood pressure disorders

If needed, perform the variation (no. 5 under Technique) mentioned above which will help release the stiffness in the back or spine. 

Enjoy the “plough posture”!

Why the rest of the world embraces yoga more than Indians?

The wave in the past two years has been shifting and more Indians are getting into practicing yoga. But before this I often used to wonder , Why the disinterest?

But I guess being an Indian I can answer it the best ( at least I hope so)

Things closest to us are often the ones we take for granted

I have noticed people often want what they can’t have, and if they have it they either lose interest or just don’t care for it. Growing up every Indian knows that yoga is a very good form of lifestyle to practice and we have many success stories around us. But then we look at the west and see people lift weights and make it look oh-so-amazing! And that is when we start wanting that  experience instead of practicing yoga.

We also cannot forget about the older generation in India, who keep telling us how to live our life, or how to perform an asana – that’s all we hear growing up. Even if yoga has had a positive impact on every Indian, from what I’ve seen they don’t want to pursue it for more than a year.

One perfect analogy could be, When one has a messy wardrobe and the parent keeps pestering them to clean for days. Then one fine day they wake up and are motivated to clean it, So they get started on cleaning everything up. Now suddenly the parent sees them doing it and says “Wow I am so happy you finally decided to clean”. Hearing this makes the child  want to immediately stop and not clean  their wardrobe anymore, the feeling of accomplishment is gone.

Now instead of a messy wardrobe let’s think of yoga.

Stress should be a powerful driving force, not an obstacle

Moving on to the counter-side, The rest of the world, especially people in countries outside Asia. I have spoken to quite a number of them and they often say they have a lot of stress and prefer forms of exercise which is calming rather than HIIT or lifting weights which is why they choose yoga.

I was told by some of the people who practice yoga from Europe that they work work work and have no time for themselves. Yoga gives them the time to relax, especially Pranayama.

Some of them have even packed up and moved to India to really learn and study the lifestyle, which to me of course is astounding and makes me want to laugh at the irony. But they say they can never live like that in the country they come from and really want to connect in the right way.

They are so focused and really want to bring back the lifestyle with them. I asked them what is wrong with their current lifestyle and they say “It is so repetitive here and in India people are carefree”. I guess people really want what they can’t have.

So what do I really think?

After talking to many people and experiencing what I have, It helped me change my perspective about yoga. I still have a lot to learn and it just keeps getting interesting. To be honest, I am extremely glad people outside India embrace it and love it. But I would be happier if more Indians would give it a try and make it a part of their lifestyle.

My Personal Encounter with Pranayma

Growing up in an Indian boarding school I was forcibly introduced to yoga at a young age and had to incorporate it in my daily life, which is why I ABSOLUTELY hated it.I was more interested in other sports or forms of exercise.

I was shown how to do a version of yoga by the adults around me, and practiced a few stretches  everyday until it became a norm.

Not to sound dramatic, but one day everything changed.

The Start 

So I would wake up everyday and follow the routine my school had, some may think its very military like and to be honest I felt the same as well.But now I realised that it was the best way and sort of miss it.

I would always try to rebel and do my yoga poses in the morning half heartedly, During the rest of my breaks I would play, run, fall down but yoga was just a big NO-NO.

Then at the age of 15, I injured my knee so had to put sort of a break on my sports and took it slow, But I loved to play basketball with my friends and missed it. As soon as I recovered I started playing again and then during a match I got punched in my face. The pain was excruciating I held my face and the next thing I know there was blood dripping from my nose into my hands.

The Journey Part 1

In university, I continued playing but had a fear of my nose and knee being injured again, So I would work out by myself. My nose injury changed  me a lot, I suddenly became extremely allergic to dust, had a deviated septum and kept getting food allergies. It would get worse day by day.

I listened to the people around me and got back into doing some breathing techniques like Kapalbhati and Anulom Vilom. Honestly I didn’t see any difference but I was desperate cause I didn’t want surgery (maybe I was doing it wrong).

After 3 years of having a love – hate relationship with yoga, I was introduced to 2 cleansing techniques Jala Dhauti (cleansing of the stomach) and Jala Neti(cleansing of the nasal path). Now let me tell you that was the game changer, combined with pranayama and asana.My sneezes completely stopped.

The Journey Part 2

I would wake up in the morning around 6am to do Jala Neti, followed by pranayama ( Kapalbhati,Ujjayi and Anulom Vilom). At 11:30 I would practice some asanas. Before bed I would do Jala Neti again. I did this for 15 days.

The next 15 days I switched to Jala Dhauti at 6 am. Then practiced Pranayama and asanas around 4pm. I switched between this routine for every 15 days for 3 months, I dint sneeze or have any blockage during this time.

The Neti Pot suggested by a yoga professional
The Neti Pot suggested by a medical professional

The End (But not really…) 

At first when I saw the changes in my breathing and body, I thought its just in my head like a placebo effect. So naturally I stopped for 6 months and as expected all the allergies and sneezes came back in full force.

I went to a doctor to get my allergies checked and voila she suggested I do Jala Neti too. But of course she dint call it that. But I was happy to see modern day medicine suggesting me a better path and not surgery (eye roll) which made me realise the world might be changing and accepting the ancient methods for the better.

Needless to say, I have continued these cleansing techniques ever since and don’t plan to give up on it.

Yoga – a poem

Started every early morning

Every movement was easy

As everyone else slept

It would just flow

And the world around me

Would just go slow

 

Wake up!

It was just a dream

You are not so Zen

You don’t wake up so early

Most of the time

Everything is so blurry

 

But when I breathe in and out

Inhale and exhale

Suddenly it’s all calm

I feel something in my toes

In the pit of my stomach

In my palms

 

Makes me wonder

Do you feel this way?

Or am I plain insane?

All these poses

Someone created

Knowing something

 

So now we try

to decrypt

take a huge sigh

 go through the scripts

and then maybe one day

we all learn this kind of way

 

Nisha