Exercise offers so many benefits, ranging from improved health to stress reduction. However, all exercises have the potential to be dangerous when not performed correctly, some being potentially more harmful than others. This is certainly true of Plow Pose in yoga. Because of the potential dangers of this pose, you should not perform it by yourself if you are a beginner. (See Reference 1)
In Plow Pose, or Halasana, begin in a shoulderstand. In shoulderstand, the backs of your arms and your shoulders support your body weight while you hold your torso perpendicular to the floor. Your legs and feet point toward the ceiling. From this position, bend at your hip joints to bring your feet close to the ground behind your head. Your arms reach in the opposite direction, with your fingers intertwined. (See References 1 and 4)
One of the primary advantages of Plow Pose is that it stretches a group of muscles -- the paraspinals of the lower and mid back -- that are not easily stretched by other, more traditional, stretches. Keeping these muscles supple helps support good posture. Performing Plow Pose can also help calm your brain, reduce stress and relieve some types of back pain. (See References 3, 1 and 2, Page 119)
Some fitness experts believe that Plow Pose can strain the fragile vertebrae in your neck. The potential for this type of injury is the primary disadvantage of the pose. If you have any sort of pre-existing neck injury, you should not do Plow Pose. You should also avoid this pose if you are menstruating, pregnant or if your blood pressure is high.(See References, 3, 1 and 2, Page 119)
You can minimize the risk of injury to your neck vertebrae by taking care with your form in the pose. When you perform Plow Pose, your vertebrae should not touch the floor. Keep your elbows as close together as possible so that your shoulders and arms support your body weight. Throughout the pose, look at your toes. Do not turn your head to either side. You can also place a stack of folded blankets under your upper back, so that your neck hangs down slightly toward the floor. By changing the angle of your neck, you won’t have to force it to get into the proper position. You can also rest your toes on a chair or bench, instead of reaching them all the way to the floor. (See References 3, 4, 1 and 2, Page 119)
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