Last month, we invited you to tap into the fiery force of the sun with Downward-facing Dog pose. Since so much of yoga is about creating balance, our pose for August — Half Moon — is meant to cultivate the calm, balancing energy of the moon.
Philosophy & Origin
Half moon pose, known as Ardha Chandrasana in Sanskrit, is named for the moon, which has a rich symbolic significance in yoga tradition. In many yogic texts and stories, the moon is one-half of two polar energies in the body — the sun (hot and active) and the moon (cool and receptive).
Pronounced: ARE-dah chan-DRAHS-anna
“Ardha” = Half / “Chandra” = Moon / “Asana” = Pose
Half moon can be a challenging balancing posture, but there are several variations and modifications that make the pose accessible to both beginners and advanced yoga students.
Half Moon Pose: Step-By-Step
First, stand with feet together at the top of your mat. Then turn to the left and step your feet wide apart. Lastly, extend your arms out to the sides at shoulder height in a T position. This is your starting position.
Next, rotate your right (front) foot so your toes point to the top of the mat. Turn the toes of your left foot slightly in and align your front heel with the arch of your back foot.
Reach the fingertips of your right hand forward as you shift your left hip back. When you can’t reach any further, fold sideways at the hip and rest your right hand on your right shin or ankle. If you’re quite flexible, you may be able to reach your fingertips to the floor. (To modify, place your hand on a yoga block.)
Align your shoulders so your left shoulder is stacked directly above your right. If you feel steady, gently turn your head and lift your gaze to your left hand. This is known as the Extended Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana).
Bring your left hand to rest on your left hip. Turn your gaze to the floor as you bend your right knee and slide your back (left) foot about 6-12 inches closer to your front foot. At the same time, reach the fingertips of your right hand to the floor or a block about 12-18 inches in front of your right foot.
Press firmly into your right hand and foot as you lift your left foot off the floor, reaching through the heel so that your foot stays flexed. Feel the length from your tailbone to your lifted heel.
Ease up on your bottom hand so that most of your weight is kept in your right leg, using your hand primarily as a guide for balance.
Stack your top hip directly over your bottom hip and work to bring your lifted leg parallel to the floor.
Work to stay in the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute. On an exhale, lower your leg and return to extended triangle. Inhale up to stand and repeat the pose for the same length of time on the opposite side.
Adjustments & Modifications
- Place a yoga block underneath your bottom hand to aid balance and help encourage proper alignment.
- Practice this pose with your back body against a wall to feel the shape of the pose without the added challenge of balance. This is also a great modification for pregnancy.
- If your balance is steady, slowly rotate your head to gaze up at your raised hand.
- For a greater challenge, raise your lower hand away from the floor. Balance solely on your standing leg for 5 to 10 breaths.
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Tips for Half Moon Pose
Stabilize your shoulders. Do this by rolling both shoulders back and broaden across your collarbones.
Keep your standing knee soft. Make sure not to lock or hyperextend it.
Play with your gaze. Look down at the floor, straight ahead, or up at your lifted hand. The goal is to have your neck be comfortable.
Don’t be afraid to fall. It’s ok to lose your balance and fall out of the pose. Simply reconnect with your breath, refocus your mind, and try again.
Eventually, you’ll find yourself balancing gracefully in space — just like the moon.
Want more Amare yoga: check out Truth in Tree Pose