Opener for 5th, 6th and 7th Chakras
Halasana (Plough) and Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand)

Complete Yoga Breath
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All Chakra

5th, 6th, 7th
Chakra Openers

Fish Pose

The Plough

The Plough - Knees up
Plough Variations

The Plough - Legs spread
Plough Variations

Shoulder Stand
Shoulder Stand

The Perfect Shoulder Standsarvanga (= whole body)
asana (= posture)

Perfection. This is Eugenia in the Shoulder Stand, a posture that most students beg to do before the final Relaxation. I am placing this posture and the Plough (see below) in the same file, because they work so well together. The Plough is indicated for the 5th Chakra in particular because it brings blood directly to the throat where it is located. The Shoulder Stand is for the 5th through 7th Chakras. They both stretch the spine. There is a long list of benefits at the end of this article.

Eugenia was quite precise in the way she taught this posture, pointing out that injury could be the result if done improperly. Please keep this in mind and do all of the preliminary steps before you try to do this. This is the goal. You will achieve this if you remain diligent and patient, above all else. Repeat: There is no need to rush when you are doing Yoga. Stress just defeats the whole purpose of the practice.

Detailed Preliminary Steps

  • If your back is too weak to raise your legs from the floor into this posture without the help of your hands or the use of force, you should absolutely not attempt to do this. It will only hurt your back and that is not the purpose of Yoga. Believe it or not, you will get to do this if you continue to practice Yoga, because your spine will keep getting stronger all the time.

Preliminary to Shoulder Stand and Plough

For Beginners
or for Problem Backs

  • Lie sideways on a floor in front of an empty wall or door (your head is away from the wall as shown). Push your buttocks right up against where the floor and wall meet. To do this properly, roll over on your side against the wall and scoot your buttocks right up to the wall. Be sure that you maintain the contact between the wall and your buttocks. It is important to feel it against the wall before you continue to lift your legs.
  • Once you are right up against the wall (and sometimes it's hard to stay there when you turn around and lie on your back), place the soles of your feet high up on the wall and walk up to lift yourself in this way.
  • When your knees are bent to the point where you can get your back straight (jutting out from the wall, of course), hold that position.
  • Use your hands to help hold your back straight in this position. The illustration above does not depict this correctly (the buttocks is not actually touching the wall in it), but it was the closest I could get to show the wall and feet on it. You can also just lie there if you want to let your legs be straight as shown above, but lifting yourself will be an excellent way to train without injuring your back. The benefits are similar to the Shoulder Stand.
  • Hold this and breathe slowly. When you bring your feet down again, turn over on your side and lie on your back for a minute or two, breathing slowly. Note: Do not sit or stand up right after you do this.

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  • Never turn your head to look at anything or anyone while in this position. It could injure your neck.
  • Breathe deeply with your abdomen. If you don't know how to do that, go to the Breath series on this site and learn how to breathe with your diaphragm muscle. The link to Breath is also on every page of this site in the above left navigation menu.

Detailed Instructions for the Shoulder Stand

  • Lie down on your back with your legs held together and your arms stretched down beside you with the palms of your hands flat on the floor. Your legs should be straight.
  • Check to see that your head is in line with your feet by lifting it and looking at your navel. If you are crooked, it will be obvious and you can correct your position.
  • (Note: If your back is weak, bring your feet as close to your body as possible, still flat on the floor. When your back is stronger, you can do this with your legs straight.)
  • Keep the palms of your hands flat on the floor and press them firmly against the floor to help you get the leverage you need to lift your legs up.
  • Inhale, and then as you exhale, lift your legs with both knees straight. When you have completed the exhalation, just breathe normally as you continue.
  • Once you get your legs up, press your chin into your chest and begin to breathe slowly with your abdomen.
  • Eugenia in Shoulder Stand
  • Look at how Eugenia places her hands on her back and how her elbows are as close together behind her as possible. Try to do this first. The elbows being close together is a big help in keeping your body stable.
  • Note: This can take some time to get just right. Once you have your hands where they belong and you feel comfortable, they will help you to support and press your back in to keep it as straight as possible. However, this can be quite difficult for beginners and can put a strain on a weak back. If this is difficult for you to even attempt, do the method I outlined above against the wall until you feel it is easier.
  • Hold this as long as it is comfortable. When you are ready to come back down to the floor, reverse the movement. Inhale and release your legs by bringing your back down, vertebra by vertebra, and then your buttocks, and finally your legs (straight the entire time). Just as you did in the beginning, press the palms of your hands on the firmly on the floor to help your body be more stable.

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Halasana - The Plough

Hala (= plough)

Perfect PloughHaving taken all of the above precautions, now it is time to continue into the Plough posture, which is a major stretch for every muscle in the body. There are many ways to get into this without doing the advanced posture. Here are some nice variations, both easy and difficult. Follow all of the instructions for the Shoulder Stand to get into this posture and then read the additions here.

Plough with Knees up
  • Follow the same instructions for the Shoulder Stand above, and then just allow your knees to come down to your forehead. This is one of my favorites. One can completely relax in this position. You can either leave your feet as I have them here, or place them on the top of your thighs. This is a great way to prepare for the goal, the final Plough, shown above.

Plough Posture to Improve Circulation

Feet out to the side in PloughA great variation (but it's hard to see in this image). My legs and feet are spread apart as far as possible with sides of the soles on my feet pressed down (as shown here with my right foot). This is a great posture to improve circulation. It takes time to get here, but the stretch you get in your spine is phenomenal. Unfortunately, it was so symmetrical, that you can't see my left foot, but the shadow is there. My left leg is stretched out with the sole pressed down just like my right foot.

Breathe deeply with your abdomen while you are in this position, and try to hold it for a few minutes. When you are about to come back down to the floor, raise your legs above you first, and with inhalation, come down slowly without lifting your head or back off the floor. (This is important to prevent injury.)

Benefits and Cautions

  • For starters, these postures are really good for varicose veins, wrinkles, sore throat, headaches, sinus. It also has a calming effect on the function of the thyroid gland, particularly the parathyroid gland.
  • This posture stretches the achilles tendon and hamstrings, and releases toxins from the spine.
  • Do not attempt to do this posture if you have a heart problem, hypertension, or have a history of eye or ear inflammation, without consulting with your healthcare professional first.
  • If you have menstrual cramps, do this every day except while menstruating. It often will help the cramps when you do start again. It is advisable for women to not practice difficult postures the first 2-3 days of a heavy menstruation.
  • Eye exercises in inverted postures: When you feel that you are stable in the Shoulder Stand, take a deep inhalation and open your eyes wide. Hold your breath. Feel the Prana (energy) in your eyes. Exhale and squint your eyes as much as you can. Wait to inhale. Do this several times with inhalation - stretched eyes wide open, exhalation - squinted eyes shut. Relax with softly closed or half-closed eyes a few seconds before you bring your legs down. You can also take a deep inhalation and then roll your eyes in a circle three times while you hold your breath. Exhale, and then inhale and roll them around in the opposite direction. Exhale and come down and relax before you sit or stand.

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