Yoga - Halasana and Savasana
by B.K.S. Iyengar
Hala means plough. This posture is generally performed after
Sarvangasana and therefore is often considered its extension.
1. Go into Salamba Sarvangasana.
2. While exhaling, lower your legs over the head, one by one.
3. Inhale, then exhale, extending your legs over the head without bending them at the knees. Place toes on the floor.
4. Stretch arms on the floor in the direction opposite to the legs.
5. Interlock fingers and turn the wrists, so that thumbs rest on the floor. Tighten arms at the elbows. Extend them away from the shoulders. Also extend palms along with the fingers.
6. Stay in this position for about five minutes, breathing normally. Increase the duration gradually to about 15 minutes.
7. To come out of the posture, bend the legs, take the buttocks back, and slowly slide down, keeping palms alongside hips.
• Those suffering from hypertension or migraine should perform Ardha (half) Halasana. In Ardha Halasana, the legs are not taken all the way down to the floor. Instead, the thighs rest on a stool in such a way that they are parallel to the floor and perpendicular to the chest. You can stay in this position for a duration of 10-15 minutes. Throughout the asana, keep your eyes shut and inwardly try to look at the tip of your nose. This pose is especially beneficial when you are tired.
• If you have heavy hips or find difficulty in breathing during Halasana, then you should perform Ardha Halasana instead.
• If there is any pain in the neck while performing this pose then keep the shoulders elevated from the floor. In order to do that, the shoulders must be placed on four to five double-folded blankets.
• This pose is beneficial for headaches and fatigue.
• It is good for arthritis and stiffness of the shoulders.
• It soothes the nerves.
• Abdominal organs are also rejuvenated.
• It helps relieve backache.
• Cramps in the hands are cured by interlocking and stretching palms and fingers.
SAVASANA Sava means a corpse. Savasana is thus the posture of emulating the dead. Though this apparently simple posture is the most difficult to master, it is also the most rewarding and refreshing. Savasana is a precise method of disciplining both body and mind. It connects asana and pranayama and leads one to the spiritual path.
1. Spread a blanket on a clean floor so that the body can lie full-length on it.
2. Sit on the blanket and extend legs in front of you. Lie down by making the spine convex and lowering the body, vertebra by vertebra, on the floor so that the entire spine rests on the floor equally and does not tilt to the side.
3. Bend legs at the knees, place feet on the floor near the hips. Slightly lift hips from the floor and, with your hands, move the skin of the buttocks gently towards your feet. Bring hips back onto the floor and slowly extend feet away from the hips, one by one. Keep feet together and extend heels in such a way that the inner legs are stretched.
4. Both the buttocks should rest evenly on the floor.
5. The body should be evenly balanced on the spine. If an imaginary line is drawn from the toes to the forehead then this should pass through where the big toes meet, the inner knees meet, as well as from the anus, the navel, the sternum, the throat, the chin, the bridge of the nose and the center of the forehead.
6. Relax legs and allow the feet to drop to the side.
7. Bending arms at the elbows, touch your shoulders with the fingers and gently extend the back of the upper arm towards the elbow so that it is evenly stretched on the floor.
8. Lower hands to the floor, palms facing upward. The arms and hands should not form angles of more than 15 degrees with the sides of the body.
9. Eyes should be shut, feeling as if they are descending passively towards the bottom of the breast bone. At the same time, feel your eyeballs pleasantly withdrawing deeper inside the sockets.
10. Stretch the back of your neck towards the crown of the head, so that you feel energy from your nape move towards the crown.
11. Now direct this flow of energy downward from the top of the nose. The bridge of the nose should be parallel to the ceiling and the floor.
12. In Savasana, energy flows in a circular motion over the head, down the nose, towards the toes, and then back to the crown of the head. In this way, energy is retained within the body.
13. Control of breath is necessary for good relaxation. In a proper breathing pattern, inhalation should be of normal duration and exhalation should be longer in duration than the inhalation.
Savasana is an extremely relaxing posture if done correctly. This posture should be performed regularly at the end of your asana practice. Savasana is not just physically lying down on the floor. If your mind is wandering, then such a posture cannot be termed Savasana. Focus all your senses—eyes, ears, skin (with its sensations of touch)—into the posture. The quality of breathing in Savasana reflects the quality of the posture.
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