Ardha Chandrasana: Half Moon Pose

HalfMoon_RodneyYee

Ardha chandrasana (ARE-dah chan-DRAHS-anna), or half moon pose, is a challenging balance posture. However, there are many modifications and variations to make the shape accessible to everyone.

Philosophy + Origin

The Sanskrit word “chandra” is often translated simply as “moon,” and actually has a much richer meaning. More than just the moon, the chandra refers to something that is glittering and shining, a brilliant object that is illuminated by light or emanating light on its own. In many traditional yogic texts and stories, the moon symbolizes one half of the two polar energies in the body. The moon, which is the feminine or dark aspect, is nurturing, tranquil, and receptive.

ADJUSTMENTS/MODIFICATIONS:

  • Place your bottom hand on a block to help encourage proper alignment and aid balance.
  • Focus your gaze down or straight ahead to prevent neck discomfort.
  • Keep your standing leg bent as much as needed.
  • Practice with your back body against the wall for added support and alignment cues. This is a great modification for pregnancy.
  • Place the sole of your lifted foot against a wall for added balance.

STEP-BY-STEP:

  1. Begin in an extended triangle pose with your right foot forward. Bend your right knee and place your right fingertips on the ground or on a block about 12 to 18 inches in front of your foot.
  2. Shift your weight into your right foot as you draw your left foot forward along the floor. Your right kneecap should be facing straight ahead, not inward.
  3. Lift your left foot off the floor, pressing through the heel so that your foot stays flexed. Lengthen from your tailbone to your lifted heel.
  4. Square your chest toward the side of your mat that you are facing.
  5. Keep your weight primarily in your right leg, using your bottom hand as little as possible, primarily as a guide for balance.
  6. Adjust your gaze slowly, either looking down, straight ahead or up at the left hand. Work to stay in the pose for up to 60 seconds before lowering the left leg back to the floor and returning to the extended triangle. Repeat on the other side.

PREPARATORY POSES:

SEQUENTIAL POSES:

COUNTER POSES:

SANSKRIT:

  • Ardha = half
  • Chandra = moon
  • Asana = pose

PHYSICAL BENEFITS:

  • Expands chest and shoulders.
  • Strengthens core, ankles, thighs, glutes, spine.
  • Stretches groin, hamstrings, shoulders, chest.

ENERGETIC BENEFITS:

  • Expands energetic bodies.
  • Relieves physical, mental, and emotional fatigue.
  • Reduces stress.


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Parsvottanasana: Intense Side Stretch Pose

ADJUSTMENTS    |     BENEFITS    |     SEQUENCING    |     SANSKRIT    |     STEPS

From lengthening the spine to stretching the legs to calming the mind, there’s a little bit of everything in parsvottanasana (parsh-voh-tahn-AHS-ah-nah) Also known as intense side stretch pose or pyramid pose, this shape is helpful for finding balance while stretching hamstrings.

Parsvottanasana requires a combination of flexibility, strength, and patience. With the help of props such as blocks or a wall, the\is pose becomes accessible for everyone.

ADJUSTMENTS/MODIFICATIONS:

  • Blocks: Place hands on blocks to help keep the torso long.
  • Wall: Place hands on a wall in front of you to work on strengthening the muscles of the back.
  • Heart opening variation: Take the hands in reverse prayer position behind the back to stretch and open your shoulders and chest while also challenging your balance. If reverse prayer isn’t accessible, you can still bring the arms behind the back, reaching for opposite elbows instead.
  • Adjust your stance: If the back heel is lifted off of the floor, shorten the stance so you can push through the heel to activate the back leg. For more stability, widen your stance.
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