Today's Daily Tip
To the Moon!
Enter Half Moon from Triangle Pose. Stand sideways on your mat with your feet four feet apart. Turn your right foot out so that it is parallel to the side of your mat. Angle the back foot in slightly. Inhale and reach your arms out like that huge hawk, then exhale as you extend to the right, pitching your pelvis powerfully toward your back leg. Keep your torso long as you place your right hand on your shin.
From there, place your left hand on your left hip, bend your right knee, and take a small step in with your back leg. Place your right hand directly below your right shoulder just to the outside of your front foot. Straighten your right leg as you lift your left leg off the floor to hip height. Push through the sole of your left foot, as though you were pressing it against a wall.
Now, look down at your standing foot and make sure it's still parallel to the edge of your mat. This foot typically turns out, pitching the standing leg off its axis and disturbing the equilibrium of the entire pose. To counter this tendency and to keep yourself upright, you need to find the plumb line of the pose, in this case the line running up your inner leg from your heel all the way to your inner groin.
To engage your inner leg, press the mound of your big toe down as you lift your arch. Stretch, spread, and activate the toes. The outer hip of the standing leg tends to splay out to the side in the Half Moon poses. To prevent this, draw in the center of your right buttock and pull the greater trochanter (the big bony knob of the outer hip) into your body. As you draw your right hip in, shave its outer edge back, like a carpenter planing a piece of wood. Then stay for a few breaths, noticing how it feels to have your standing leg set.
To complete the shape of the pose, stack the upper hip atop the lower hip. Without disturbing your standing leg, spin your chest up toward the ceiling as you reach your left arm up. Slowly take your gaze toward your left hand.
Spread the wings of your diaphragm and your inner chest cavity with soft, open breathing. As you stay in Half Moon for 5 to 10 breaths, go for the feeling of flying while staying in one place. If you fall in any direction, fall upward! Come out of the pose by lowering your back leg into Triangle Pose, and then switch legs.
Parivrtta Supta Padangusthasana (Revolved Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose)
In any balancing pose, the body naturally shifts and sways until it finds a still point. When these micromovements occur in the Half Moon poses, your standing leg and hip have to be responsive and resilient to prevent you from going off kilter. To make your hip joints more resilient, you can strengthen the muscles and connective tissue around them in standing poses like Virabhadrasana III (Warrior III) and stretch them in a pose such as this one.
Lie on your back and press your left foot into a wall. Reach your right leg up toward the ceiling. Catch the sole of your right foot with a strap, holding both ends of the strap in your left hand. (If you are more flexible, grab the outer edge of the right heel with your left hand.) Extend up through your right heel to stretch your Achilles tendon, calf muscle, and hamstrings. If this feels intense, you are not alone. Think of it as a hamstring puja (devotional ritual)!