‘Plow’ through life for a healthier back

You’ll notice my last few yoga posts have been on spine health. You might be wondering why…

A strong, flexible spine is one of the most important ways to assure better health as you age. This one body part, when it’s healthy and strong, can help you have good posture, better balance and flexibility and help you hold on to an active lifestyle. And that equates to a longer life.

There’s much truth to the saying, “A body in motion stays in motion.” So it’s important to keep an active lifestyle if at all possible.

But oftentimes the spine becomes stiff and the shoulders tense from stress, work and years of inactivity. In today’s video, Lauren Golen shares a yoga posture called Halasana, or “Plow Pose.” It stretches your shoulders and entire spinal column as well as helping to stimulate the thyroid gland and work the abdominals. While Plow is an advanced posture, here Lauren teaches both a beginner’s and advanced methods. I suggest starting out with the beginner’s pose. Enjoy!

Plow Pose: Beginner’s position

Lie on your mat or rug, on your back with palms facing down.

Raise your legs up as far as you can, feet toward the ceiling.

This is the “beginner’s modification” of this advanced posture. So beginners can “hang out” in this plow pose position. Try to remain still, pulling the belly in toward the spine, and trying to relax your spine against the floor.

Plow Pose: Full position

From here continue moving your straight legs over and then behind your head.

Your arms are still extended with palms touching the floor. The arms act as a counter balance.

Wiggle side-to-side a bit to ensure that your weight is evenly displaced over your shoulders.

Caution: You do not want your weight pressing your neck (cervical spine) against the floor. You want your weight evenly across your shoulders. If you feel your neck supporting your weight, you can raise your chin up to create an arc that will relieve the pressure.

Next, clasp your hands together and press them down into the floor. This helps create a triangle position from your arms and shoulders, and allows for the weight to become more directed onto the shoulders.

You can either flex the feet and rest them on the balls, or extend the feet and rest them on the insteps, whichever feels more comfortable.

Hold the plow pose for a minute or several (depending on how you feel).

Release the pose by releasing your hands and returning your arms to their parallel starting position.

Slowly unfold each vertebra from the cervical down to the lumbar, to return to the beginning supine position. Do this slowly and deliberately, keeping the legs together and engaging the abdominals.

Follow along with Lauren for more details and the visual!

Dr. Mark Wiley

By Dr. Mark Wiley

Dr. Mark Wiley is an internationally renowned mind-body health practitioner, author, motivational speaker and teacher. He holds doctorates in both Oriental and alternative medicine, has done research in eight countries and has developed a model of health and wellness grounded in a self-directed, self-cure approach. Dr. Wiley has written 14 books and more than 500 articles. He serves on the Health Advisory Boards of several wellness centers and associations while focusing his attention on helping people achieve healthy and balanced lives through his work with Easy Health Options® and his company, Tambuli Media.