How Halasana Became Family: Sivananda Yoga Posture Stories
By Shahar Arjuna Kovetz
Over time, our experience of yoga asanas evolves beyond the physical — the postures become our teachers and companions, showing us our relationship with ourselves and the world. Enjoy this collection of stories submitted by Sivananda Yoga practitioners from around the world, sharing their in-depth connections with each asana of the Sivananda sequence.
I want to share my story with you — about my yoga practice and one asana in particular. From a young age, I was drawn to this wonderful world of spirituality and also blessed because my parents brought me up that way.
When I was 5 years old, I was already being taken to yogic gatherings where swamis gave lectures and led meditations for other spiritual aspirants. But as much as I liked yoga, you can imagine how interested a 5-year-old is in lectures and sitting still.
For my little kid mind, the asanas were clearly the most fun aspect of yoga, and I loved when my mom would show me new ones. I’d practice them frequently, as I was usually rolling around the floor anyway. My favorite asana was the shoulderstand, sarvangasana, because it was the easiest for me to do and I loved being upside down.
But as I grew up, I was most drawn to the world tai chi, which became a greater part of my purpose. I began to teach tai chi at age 15 and immersed myself in the practice. Still, yoga was always in the back of my mind … and I continued to practice the shoulderstand for fun.
By the time I was 22, I still had never been to an official yoga class. And though my mom would show me asanas as she learned them, the only one I regularly tried was shoulderstand. But after I finished my military service, my mom offered to sign me up for the Sivananda Yoga Teacher Training Course in the Bahamas.
I felt hesitant to do a yoga teacher training because I had never taken a real yoga class before. But after three years in the army, I wasn’t going to turn down a yoga vacation on an island. I traveled across the world to the Bahamas for this new experience, and I soon realized this would affect me more deeply than a vacation. The training completely enhanced my personal practice and added a new layer of spirituality into my life.
In my first yoga class I tried all the different asanas within the sequence, and my body couldn’t thank me enough. I felt like I practiced yoga my entire life … it was like coming home. But the best part was when I learned there was a posture that actually expanded on my lifelong friend, the shoulderstand. Her name was halasana, also known as plough pose. Just as I welcomed the shoulderstand repeatedly into my life, I happily embraced the plough as a new member of my family.
When I first started practicing the plough, it felt impossible to get my feet all the way to the ground — let alone straight! Once I finally touched the ground with my feet, the posture felt exactly right, and I even felt relaxed in the position. I looked forward to it in every class. My new family member, halasana, gave me practice in my two favorite things: being upside down and giving my spine a long stretch.
My spiritual life has continued to expand. In addition to being a tai chi teacher, I am now a teacher of yoga. I have learned to love not only asanas, but also meditation and spiritual talks. And even when I’m not officially practicing yoga, I’ll still toss my legs behind my head in the plough — just for leisure. Every time, it’s like greeting a much-loved part of my family.
Every week from January 1 – March 26, 2018, we will be sharing a new story — You can access all of the current ones here.