(Above, an old image of me, executing the wide-legged plough -- u cannot see the other leg:) and below, Lord Balarama, holding the plough in his hand:)
I will be finishing that engrossing book Myth of the Asanas soon, in a day or two. And learnt there that the halasana is linked with Lord Balarama, also called Haladhara (the one who weilds the plough). The authors say it is the fertility pose, because it makes your mind fertile:) And ready for the big truth. Checking out more on Lord Balararama, learnt that he is also known as Halayudha (the one whose weapon is the plough). Apparently, though often regarded as an avataar of Lord Vishnu he has his own personality. Somewhat like Lakshman with Ram and his neutrality is what kept him out of the big battle of Mahabharata, because he loved both parties equally. I love that about him -- because his stand shows that the battle is not so simple as is often made out to be, between good and evil, but just two different versions of truth... and possibly, two different versions of ourselves... And that, for harmony to be maintained inside us, we need to first become aware of the conflict in us, then restore homeostasis... That can be so tough!! Then, maybe after that we can go about trying to change the world (as we keep foolishly trying:).
So what I love about Balarama, and therefore, of this pose, is that he is said to be the Sat and Chid aspect of the final Sat-chid-Ananda ... leading to the final great bliss of awareness:)( Sat-chid-ananda, for yoga illiterates, stands for Truth-Knowledge-Bliss aspect of reality towards which your practice must eventually lead u:) Maybe that is why this pose can give a lot of trouble. It is not a pose to sniff at -- the eternity-knowledge-mind-fertility pose!! It must be cultivated with gentleness and love and great dedication. It must be treated with respect. It must be practiced daily. It is a releasing pose and is never easy however flexible you are and can create new problems even for those who are comfortable in it. So, even if you learn to hold this pose for a few seconds, that duration is not enough to really feel the pose. To feel its demand on your breath, your mind, your inner field of very subtle awareness, your muscles in the legs, and hips and even your entire abdomen (which can release with a very powerful cramping pain, if u hold it long and that never goes, however adept you are) you have to learn to hold it longer... I would think your sadhana would be incomplete without a two-minute hold in it, at the least, daily!
U know when u learn to hold poses long, such poses, I mean, suddenly there is an empty space where nothing moves, in your mind. The mind becoming aware of itself. Stopping itself deliberately. Not the sense of vacuity, but of a fullness and richness and fecundity (and yes, fertility!). But since we humans fear that (heavens, that is where the I-identity vanishes) and anxious when that happens, we claim to be bored and rush out of the poses. That is why we fill up our lives with `entertaintainment' because we resist that stillness:) The point is to feel that deliberate-blank-clarity in a pose. It is the tabula rasa state. Pure slate, an empty canvas, where you are given and gifted with the ultimate luxury to re-create yourself. That gift is not for everybody... that is why people run away from yoga! And such poses demonstrate the resistance and the drag away from yoga.
BUT, if you hang on, u reach THAT zone!!
Welcome to pure yoga!! It is there, in this pose!!