Today's Daily Tip
To the Moon!
You may be familiar with the caution "Avoid practicing yoga on the full or new moon!" This tradition of observing "moon days" stems from the belief in the Ashtanga system that practicing at either extreme of the lunar cycle leaves you vulnerable to injury. One theory is that because the body consists mainly of water, you are affected, like the ocean's tides, by the moon: On full-moon days the pull of the moon is so strong that your prana (life force) moves upward, leaving you feeling headstrong and liable to push yourself beyond your limits; on new-moon days, the pull of the moon is so diminished that you find yourself lacking motivation. The ultimate time to practice, then, is during the middle of the lunar cycle, when the moon is a half circle and your prana is balanced. You can observe for yourself if this is true. Regardless, conceiving of the moon this way can provide helpful imagery for Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana.
Half Moon Pose and its twin, Revolved Half Moon Pose, represent, to me, the middle ground between the emptiness and fullness of the moon. As one-legged balancing poses, they require a steady stream of prana in the legs and feet to keep you grounded, and as deep twists, they require a steady stream of prana through the upper body to keep the torso soaring. The balance of energy is precisely calibrated. Learning them requires both considerable strength and patience, but if you use the support you need and if you keep your mind spacious, you'll find that they are rejuvenating and restorative. They build a sense of ease and equipoise while being energizing and dynamic. In the sequence to come, you will enjoy a tremendous earth-bound pull while you feel the levity that comes with free balancing. See if you notice the stimulating effects of the Half Moon poses as well as their cooling, rejuvenating benefits.
Before You Begin
Revolved Half Moon Pose demands a lot from the hamstrings, pelvis, sacrum, and lower back. It also requires considerable core strength. Awaken and warm up your torso and legs before you practice the pose; start with Sun Salutations and a series of standing poses like Trikonasana (Triangle Pose), Parsvakonasana (Side Angle Pose), Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle), and Parsvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch). If you are fatigued, do Supta Padangusthasana (Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose) and Jathara Parivartanasana (Revolved Abdomen Pose) to refresh the nerves around the pelvis, sacrum, and lower back. Also, be sure that you are steady in Tree Pose, the first balancing pose to learn before venturing into this sequence.
Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)
To balance gracefully in either of the Half Moon poses, it's essential that you build a solid foundation in the feet, legs, and hips. Doing so requires patience and resolve, but once you've got this underpinning, you'll grip less in your diaphragm and rib cage. Your upper body will be light, and instead of being bound by gravity, you'll feel as though you are soaring above the earth, like a great hawk.