Halasana - The Plow
The Sanskrit word Hala हल [also hāla] means plow, as in a traditional plow that is drawn by a horse or oxen. When performing this posture the body resembles a plow.
Weapon of Balarama.
This position can be demanding on the cervical vertebra. Once tamed, it provides deep health benefits.
In the classical version, the starting point is lying down on the back. Upon an exhalation, the legs, hip and trunk are slowly raised, passing through the vertical. Then, upon a slow exhalation, the toes come touching the ground behind the head while keeping the legs extended. Only muscles necessary to this movement should be used. In the beginning, the lifting of the legs lower trunk may need the support of the hands.
The eyes focus on the inter-eyebrow point (Brumadhya Drishti). Mula Bandha is contracted throughout the pose. Breathing can follow a 3/0/6/0 cycle with a short awareness during both retentions. Some variants use Ujjayin (noisy throat breathing).
This position requires perfect immobility, notably at the level of the fingers and hands. It should be held for 4 minutes at least. If the position is comfortable, the respiratory rhythm can be of 3/6/6/0 (Visamavritti) or better 3/12/6/0.
In this version, the arms are brought behind the head so that the toes rest in the fingers or in the palms of the hand. In this last case, the fingers cover the toes.
Focus, gestures, and breathing are the same as for those of the classical version.