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Ardha Chandra Chapasana
Ardha = Half · Chandra = Moon · Chapa = Bow · Asana = Pose
Opens your hamstrings, hip flexors, and chest; evokes a sense of freedom and inspires you to stand up for your beliefs
The word chapa refers to the sugarcane stalk the goddess Lalita uses as her bow. Her arrows are flowers, and she has a half moon (ardha chandra) in her hair. For this reason, my teacher Douglas Brooks, PhD, a scholar of Hinduism and the comparative study of religions, named this pose (which is a variation of Ardha Chandrasana) Ardha Chandra Chapasana many years ago. The goddess who holds the bow (chapa) represents every emotional possibility—from pleasant and agreeable to fierce and formidable. Her intricacy is not unlike our own complex nature. Although she may seem sweet and demure with flower arrows and a sugarcane bow, her weapons become sharp and deadly when demons need slaying. All yogis can relate to this need for inner dichotomy:
There are times to be pleasant and agreeable, and times to stand with ferocity and fight for what is right and moral.
Step 1: Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)
Come back into Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose) on the left side. Place your right hand on your right hip and look down to the floor. Inhale deeply; step your right foot forward (about 6 inches) and walk your left hand diagonally out to the left of your front foot (about 10 inches).
Step 2: Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)
Spring off your right foot while grounding your left foot into the floor for balance. Lift your right leg up behind you on a diagonal into Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose). Be sure your right leg is in line with your torso, so you don’t overwork your outer hip or inner thigh muscles. Keep your standing leg engaged by lifting the muscles above your kneecap. Bring your right arm up vertically and slowly take your gaze to your top hand. If you feel cramping in your standing leg, draw the left buttock under to elongate the glute muscle.
Step 3: Bend Knee Toward Chest
Once you feel steady, bring your right knee toward your chest so you can grab the top of your right foot with your right hand.
See also Avoid Knee Pain and Injury with Yoga
Step 4: Ardha Chandra Chapasana
When your hand has made a connection with the top of your right foot, hold firmly and swing your knee back behind you. To fully open the pose, kick your right foot into your hand as though you’re trying to straighten your leg. Without letting your right hip pop forward, draw your left buttock under. Be sure your bent (right) thigh stays in line with your torso, so that you do not overwork your outer or inner thigh muscles. Hold here for 3–5 breaths. To come out, release your foot and place your right hand on your hip; bend your standing leg; powerfully reach through your back leg, and place your right foot on the floor, returning to Parsvakonasana. Repeat on the other side.
Ardha Chandra Chapasana can cause tension in your hamstrings, especially near the muscle attachments at the sitting bones or back of your knee. If your hamstrings feel tight, bring the floor to you by placing a block under your front hand. A cramping sensation in the standing buttock is also common with this pose. If this happens, draw your buttock under and rotate your leg outward, which may help to clear the cramp.
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About Our Pro
Model and teacher Amy Ippoliti aims to bring ancient wisdom to modern yogis, both on and off the mat, while sharing her passion for earth conservation. A pioneer of yoga education, she co-founded 90 Monkeys, an online and in-person school for yoga teachers. Ippoliti has been studying yoga philosophy, vinyasa, and alignment-based asana since she was 16, and she leads trainings and workshops worldwide. Learn more at amyippoliti.com and @amyippoliti.