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Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose) is a challenging posture that will test your balance. You bring in energies from both the moon (calm, cooling) and the sun (fiery, intense), as you root down with your standing leg and stabilizing arm while lifting and extending your raised leg and opposite arm.
Practice Half Moon Pose on both sides to work on postural imbalances. If you have a tight chest or hips (say, from sitting at a computer all day), do some hip opening stretches before moving into this pose, so that you can more easily rotate your torso and lengthen your ribcage.
If you lose your balance and fall in Half Moon Pose, simply refocus and reconnect with your breath. It’s the same way in daily life: When you get distracted, come back to your breath and to the present moment.
Half Moon Pose basics
Sanskrit: Ardha Chandrasana (are-dah chan-DRAHS-anna)
Pose type: Standing Balance
Targets: Full Body
Why we love it: “Half Moon is the pose that brought me out of “block snobbery,’ ” says Tamara Jeffries, Yoga Journal‘s senior editor. “I have to use a block for support in this pose. Dianne Bondy had some great modifications for this using the wall. If you put yourself in a corner, you can support the extended/lifted leg, as well as your back body. That way, I can feel completely supported while I focus on my alignment.”
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Half Moon Pose is good for strengthening both legs evenly, teaching coordination, and helping you focus.
Half Moon Pose: Step-by-step instructions
- Start in Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle) with your left foot forward.
- Bring your right hand to your hip and turn your head to look at the floor.
- Bend your front leg and shift your weight into your front foot.
- Reach your front hand a little forward and place it on the mat or a block directly beneath your front shoulder. Press down through your fingers to steady yourself.
- Lift your back leg until your thigh is parallel to the floor. Slowly turn your chest to face the right, twisting your torso and hips. Reach your top hand to the ceiling.
- Either keep your gaze on the floor or slowly bring it to your top hand. Keep a slight bend in your standing leg so you don’t hyperextend your knee.
- Exit the pose the same way you came into it and return to Extended Triangle.
If you have difficulty touching the floor with your lower hand, support your hand on a block. Start with the block at its highest height and, if your balance is steady and comfortable, lower it down first to its middle height, then finally if possible to its lowest height.
Variation: Half Moon Pose on a chair
To make the pose easier on your lower back, try this posture with your hand or forearm on the base of the chair. Lift your leg up as high as you can without forcing.