ardha chandrasana: half moon pose


A physically beautiful pose, the expansion you feel when practicing is even more so. Ardha Chandrasana (are-dah chan-DRAHS-anna), or Half Moon Pose, is a challenging balance posture. However, there are many modifications and variations that allow everyone to enjoy the benefits. Not only can it open your heart and shoulders, but practicing Half Moon can also improve the flexibility and mobility of your hips and neck.

Philosophy + Origin

The Sanskrit word “chandra”, although often translated simply as “moon”, actually has a much richer meaner. 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:

  • Use a block at the top of your mat to help encourage proper alignment and aid balance.
  • Don’t rush squaring your hips in this pose, especially if it adds unnecessary or uncomfortable stress to your lower back.
  • If it’s uncomfortable to look up, focus your gaze down or straight forward.
  • Engaging mula bandha, or the muscles of the pelvic floor and sex organs, will help to reduce or prevent low back pain or sacroiliac pain.
  • Keep your standing leg bent and engage your quadriceps.
  • Practice with your back body against the wall for added support and alignment cues. This is a great modification for pregnancy.
  • You can also use a wall in this pose by placing the sole of your lifted foot against it for added balance.

CONTRAINDICATIONS AND CAUTIONS:

  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Low blood pressure
  • Migraine
  • Neck pain or injury

TIPS:

Everything about this pose, from the way it looks to the way it feels, is expansive. Stay mindful about how your entire body feels while practicing Ardha Chandrasana. If you feel restriction, instead of expansion, try making adjustments or modifications to allow yourself to reap the full benefits. Like all balance poses, keeping your mind focused and your gaze still will be beneficial as you practice.

STEP-BY-STEP:

  1. It’s easiest to enter this pose from Extended Triangle. To begin, come into Extended Triangle Pose with your right foot forward. As you inhale, bend your right knee as you draw your left foot forward along the floor. Simultaneously, bring your right hand just outside of your right foot and about 12 to 18 inches forward.
  2. Press into your right hand, either on the floor or on a block, as you begin to straighten your right leg. Bring your left foot off the floor, extending straight through your leg and pressing through the heel so that the foot stays flexed. Your right kneecap should be facing straight ahead, not inward.
  3. Turn your chest by rotating your right ribs forward and your left ribs back. Place your left hand on your left hip to check for neutral alignment through your hips and pelvis. Think about lengthening from your tailbone to your left heel.
  4. Rather than putting all of your weight into your right hand, shift your weight into your right leg. Your bottom hand should be used as little as possible, primarily as a guide for balance.
  5. Adjust your gaze slowly, either keeping it down, straight ahead or up at the left hand. Beginners will find that balancing gets progressively more difficult with each step. Work to stay in the pose for up to 60 seconds before lowering the left leg back to the floor and returning to Extended Triangle. Switch sides and begin again.

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PREPARATORY POSES:

  • Adho Mukha Svanasana
  • Baddha Konasana
  • Parsvakonasana
  • Supta Padangusthasana
  • Uttanasana
  • Utthita Trikonasana
  • Vrksasana

FOLLOW-UP POSES:

  • Janu Sirsasana
  • Paschimottanasana
  • Parivrtta Trikonasana
  • Prasarita Padottanasana
  • Upavistha Konasana

SANSKRIT:

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

 

PHYSICAL BENEFITS:

  • Expands chest and shoulders
  • Increases mobility in hip joints and neck
  • Strengthens core, ankles, thighs, glutes, spine
  • Stretches groin, hamstrings, shoulders, chest
  • Relieves back aches and tension
  • Improves sciatica pain and discomfort
  • Relieves cramping associated with menstrual cycles
  • Increases coordination and balance
  • Improves digestion

ENERGETIC BENEFITS:

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

MANTRA:

Chandra Mantra

Om Som Somaya Namahis the beej or seed mantra associated with the moon and Chandra Dev, the peaceful, youthful god who is also one of the gods of fertility.

MUDRA: CHANDRA MUDRA

Interlace your four fingers with palms facing up. Touch your thumbs together and allow your hands to rest in your lap. Traditionally used in conjunction with a full moon, this mudra will help you channel the lunar qualities into your daily life.

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