Snail Pose ‘Halasana Variant’ Benefits and Contraindications
|Common Name(s)||Snail pose in English|
|Chakras||Crown Chakra (Sahasrara Chakra), Third Eye Chakra (Ajna Chakra), Throat Chakra (Vishuddha Chakra) and Solar Plexus (Manipura Chakra)|
|Elements||Thought, Light, Ether and Fire|
Snail Pose is a variant of the Halasana or the Plough Pose. It is a supine pose in which the body is rolled up backwards and the final posture resembles a snail or a plough.
This asana affects the Crown Chakra (Sahasrara Chakra), Third Eye Chakra (Ajna Chakra), Throat Chakra (Vishuddha Chakra) and Solar Plexus (Manipura Chakra). These are topmost chakras of the body from the head. The snail asana seeks to activate and balance the four elements of Thought, Light, Ether and Fire as well as Vatta and Pitta of the Ayurveda practice.
Snail ‘Halasana’ Pose is a stretch asana done with inversion of the body and it affects the full spine. All the internal organs are compressed and massaged which makes them function properly and gain strength. The meridian affected by the Snail Pose is that of Urinary Bladder.
There are some variations to this pose which are discussed later on in the article.
Contraindications for Snail Pose
Do take care of the following set of precautions so that you know the best health conditions in which this asana can be performed and the conditions in which it is to be avoided or carried out under supervision.
1/4. During the inversion and in holding the pose for some time, there is a lot of pressure exerted on the neck. Therefore, for people with neck issue, this asana is best avoided.
2/4. Similarly, for people with high blood pressure, vertigo, upper body infections or cold as well, it is not recommended to do this asana as blood circulation to head increases in this asana.
3/4. Since the asana involves lifting the spine and then bending the knees overhead, those people who have a bad back or any other issue with the back should not perform this asana.
4/4. Women in their menstrual cycle or pregnancy period should not perform this pose.
How to do the Snail Pose?
The snail pose can be done easily with people having good flexibility of body, particularly spine. However, for those who are not able to do it, there are certain easier variations which can be attempted. You can try doing an Ananda Balasana before entering the pose.
1/4. Simply lie down on back on a flat floor and lift the legs up. You can take support of hands for lifting these up. Hands can be used to push the lower back to move back or these can be placed down on the floor close to the hips.
2/4. If the legs and the spine are kept straight while lifting up, it becomes a Halasana or a Plough Pose. However, if the knees are bent and the lower back is revolved during the asana, then this is the Snail Posture.
3/4. The hands can support back from the hip region so that the legs do not fall down under gravity.
From over the head, let the bent knees fall down and be placed close to the shoulders. The hands would remain outstretched on floor in opposite direction. If the legs are kept straight, as is the case with Halasana, these will be placed at some distance over the head in the inversion posture
4/4. You have to ensure that after getting into the pose, your neck does not get too much of weight. If it becomes unbearable, you should come out of the pose.
Alternatives and Variations
1/3. Naman Pranamasana is one of its variants. In this asana, a person kneels down and bends forward so as to place the head close to the knees on floor. The hands touch the ankles or heels of the feet. This pose also resembles the snail pose and is relatively easier to do than the inversion variant discussed above.
2/3. Instead of taking the legs over the head to rest on the floor, with knees either bent or straight, you can simply have these straight up in the air or hanging in the air parallel to the ground. This is called the Half-plough pose.
3/3. You may not roll over completely to come on shoulders. Rather, you may just lift the hips and the lower back a little to take legs behind over the head, with upper spine still on floor.
Coming out of the pose
Just as important it is to get into the pose in right manner, it is equally important to get out of the pose correctly as well.
You can keep the knees in bent position, support the back with hands and then slowly roll down.
If you head lifts up, it is natural and do not obstruct its natural flow. Let it come up as well.
Suggested time limit for holding the pose
3 to 5 minutes is the time frame within which the pose should be held before coming back to the normal one.
Benefits of Snail Pose
1/5. Spine stretched- The first benefit is that spine is stretched. It is a good exercise to build flexibility in spine. It also increase the intake of oxygen in body which increases the flow of prana vayu.
2/5. Calms down mind- By entering and holding the pose, there is deep breathing which opens up the connecting tissues and blocked channels. This activates the parasympathetic nervous system which reduces the stress levels and calms down the mind.
3/5. Exercises for internal organs- Almost all organs of the body get stretched, compressed and exercised with this pose. This improves the overall functions of these organs.
4/5. Better blood circulation- There is increase blood flow from the legs to the pelvic floor and also to the head. For people who have to sit for long hours, this is a good counter pose.
5/5. Stimulates the Thyroid gland- One of the advantages of Snail Pose is that it stimulates the Thyroid gland.
What Are the Counter Poses to Snail Pose?
Once done with the snail pose and having come out of it, you shall perform some of the counter poses in order to bring balance to energies and muscular movements.
1/3. Windshield Wipers is one of the good counter poses to Snail Pose.
2/3. Matsyasana helps in releasing the neck and stretches the spine.
3/3. Child Pose is another counter pose to it.