Halasana is one of the asanas from the closing sequence of the Ashtanga Series. This pose is what attracted me to the Ashtanga practice in the first place, because performing this pose is an indication that the practice is coming to an end, and that this inversion relieves every single part of my body, especially in this modern world where people spend majority of their time working on their computers, mobile phones and television. This humble inversion pose requires you to lift your spine while keeping your weight supported on your shoulders and upper arms. Halasana helps to bring the energy up the spine and stimulate the amritabindu. Holding this pose for a long time helps settle the mind and calm the breath.
How to perform Halasana:
1. Beginning from lying on the mat with a straight spine with both palms extended facing the mat
2. Inhale: Using your core muscles and forearm, push into your palms and lift your lower limbs off the mat, over your torso with both elbows bent while supporting your middle back, and gently place your
feet behind your back. Exhale relax.
3. Inhale: Slowly walk your toes away from your body, placing your toes flat on the mat naturally. (Pointing your toes helps to the energy to flow along the subtle pathways in the body) Exhale relax.
4. Inhale: Finally, interlock your fingers on the floor and straighten your arms so that your body is now supporting itself with the strength of your torso, arms and core. Take 8 to 10 breaths.
5. To come out of this pose, release your fingers and bent both elbow to support your middle back, inhale, using your core and forearm, bring your lower limbs up and over your torso to shoulder stand, and slowly lower your lower limbs back on the mat with control using your core muscles.
Things to take note in Halasana:
· Do not squeeze/choke the windpipe; make sure that breathing is normal. Breath with the throat.
· Do not rotate your neck. Gaze towards the tip of your nose.
· Spine should be straight. Avoid rounding your back.
· Keep abdomen drawn into your body
· Deep hip joints flexion is engaged to allow you toes to reach towards the ground. Avoid forcing your legs down to get your toes on the mat.
o If you are unable to touch your toes to the mat, try using your hands to support your lower back instead of clasping them on the floor. Gravity will work on your legs and increase the flexion in your hips if you let your legs dangle in the air. Try to keep your knees straight to allow the flow of energy into the interior space of your pelvis.
Benefits of Halasana:
· Aligns the spine, and stretch the neck and hamstrings
· Soothes the nervous system, regulate the thyroid and parathyroid glandular functions
· Improves asthma, bronchitis and throat disorders
· Alleviate depression and anxiety
· Improves digestion and circulation.
Nasagrai (gaze towards to the tip of the nose)
Manipura; Vishuddha; Ajna; Sahasrasa
Leg: Gluteus maximus, Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Gastrocnemius, Soleus
Back: Spinal extensors
Arms: Triceps brachii (when the arms are extended)
Spine issues, weak cervical muscles, pregnant women, women with periods, enlarged thyroid/spleen/liver, high blood pressure, sciatica.
· Kino MacGregor (2013), The Power of Ashtanga Yoga, Shambhala Publications Inc.