Shoulders and Plow

awkward_pose_3-001I am obedient by nature. I follow the yoga teacher’s instructions and execute every pose.  Sometimes I lag, since I flow slower than many, but I sequence through and catch up in downward dog. Teacher’s give permission for variation when they say, Do your own practice, but I prefer to be with the group.  That is why I attend class as opposed to doing yoga in my den.

However, I have started to do my own thing.  It began about a month ago; when just before savasana I felt the urge to activate my back. The class included a lot of hip work, and my back was itching for action. When everyone else lay flat, I hiked into shoulder stand, hung up there a minute, and then lowered into plow. I let my toes balance on the floor beyond my head. I drew a very long, very slow arc of straight legs into the air and lowered myself to the mat for savasana. I remembered this ending sequence from my first yoga classes, many years ago.

I’ve never had the shoulder / plow duo within a CorePower class. Too bad. Shoulder is my favorite inversion. It provides the advantages of reorienting my relationship to gravity, flushing my head with blood, stabilizing my core, and refining my equilibrium; without the anxiety of trying to get into headstands or the futility of handstands. Going upside down is difficult for me. Shoulder Stand offers benefits with stability.

Moving from shoulder into plow is a natural transition. It’s graceful. The back stretch feels wonderful, and delivers corresponding core strengthening without conscious effort. When my toes touch the floor far beyond my head, I feel simultaneously light and grounded and, if I’m in a metaphorical mind space, envision myself as a nautilus.

Following plow with a long ascent and descent into savasana is satisfying.  Knowing that this is the last stress of class, I unwind very slowly. Each abdominal clenches as I lift my legs. By the time my feet pike over my head, each vertebra grips the mat in succession.  When my entire back is on the mat, the stress returns to my front. I lower my straight legs as slow as possible to the floor.  It’s a game, to move in steady but tiny increments.

Perhaps it’s odd to have such a strenuous move as the final expression of a yoga class, but I like calling all of my resources to flow from plow, which has restful attributes, all the way to the other side of myself and into savasana, the fullest expression of rest.


Plow Pose

About paulefallon

Greetings reader. I am a writer, architect, cyclist and father from Cambridge, MA. My primary blog, is an archive of all my published writing. The title refers to a sequence of three yoga positions that increase focus and build strength by shifting the body’s center of gravity. The objective is balance without stability. My writing addresses opposing tension in our world, and my attempt to find balance through understanding that opposition. During 2015-2106 I am cycling through all 48 mainland United States and asking the question "How will we live tomorrow?" That journey is chronicled in a dedicated blog,, that includes personal writing related to my adventure as well as others' responses to my question. Thank you for visiting.
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