Our expert says:
Halasana is contraindicated for people with slipped disc, sciatica, any serious back problems, especially arthritis in the neck. Headstand is contra-indicated for people with cervical spondylosis. So both practices would not be ideal for you, especially if you are already getting signs of pinched nerves and discomfort lasting after you have come out of the poses.
There are many alternatives that give similar benefits but are easier on the neck, like the half shoulder stand (vipareeta karani asana).
I would also recommend looking at simple neck and shoulder movements done with both breath and body awareness. This will help regenerate and strengthen the area. When the area is better prepared you can then begin with the preliminary headstand and plough poses, and slowly over a period of time, work your way into the full practices.
Contra-indications however are often just a precaution, so I would also recommend that you listen deeply to yourself and decide weather you want to do them or not and how long to hold for. This will change on a daily basis.
Halasana can be practiced dynamically, coming into it, holding for a second or two and then come out of it. Headstand can be held for a few seconds and then come out of it. Very important is also to do the counter poses for these postures which should correct problems created by the pose to some degree. Fish pose for the plough and standing on your feet for the headstand.
Remember what we are aiming to do with postures is develop awareness, relaxation and activation of energy in the body. There are many postures that will do this. Progression in yoga is not how many advanced asana you can do, but how much awareness you are cultivating in your practice. Also a progression to pranayama and meditation practices that become more and more a greater part of your daily practice with a few simple asana to keep the body fit and flexible.
Hope this helps and keep up the practice.
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