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THE PLOUGH (HALASANA)

Complementing the Plough, the Bridge brings the feet down from the Shouderstand in the opposite direction, reversing the stretch on the spine and relieving pressure on the neck. Its Sanskrit name, Setu Bandhasana, means "bridge-building pose", referring to the way the body creates a perfect arch from head to toe. Moving into and out of the pose strengthens the abdominal and lower back muscles and makes the spine and wrists more supple. To come into the Bridge from the Shoulderstand you need a fairly flexible back - at first you may have to push up into the pose from the floor, as shown below right. Advanced students can perform the Shouderstand, Plough and Bridge in one continuous series.

Caution:: It is essential to use the same position for the Bridge as for the Shoulderstand, with thumbs uppermost - you risk spraining your thumbs if they are under your back. 

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Beginner's step 1:

Lie down on your back with your knees bent, feet together. Place your hands on the lower back, as in the Shoulderstand, and then lift your hips up as high as you can. Now proceed as shown in step 2 (below). Slowly reverse the steps again to come back out of the pose.
1. Come up into the Shoulderstand, supporting your waist with your hands. Bend one leg and lower the foot toward the floor.
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2. Bring the other leg down to the ground. Hold the pose for at least two or three deep breaths. Inhale, come into the Shoulderstand and roll out. Once you can support yourself with your hands nearer your shoulders in the Shoulderstand, you can drop into the Bridge, both legs at once.
 
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