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  • Emily Shain

How to: Half-Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana)

If we’ve practiced together, then you might have already realized that I am a big fan of half-moon pose, Ardha Chandrasana. The asana (physical posture) demands a balance between lower body grounding and upper body extension through the stacking of shoulders and hips. As the half-moon in the sky is the center point between the new and full moon, we also seek to find this complimentary connection in the body when we enter the pose. With time and practice, we begin discovering the potential of the stretch upwards and outwards. But as with any pose, we must begin learning from the ground up. Step 1: Begin by grounding the standing big toe to the floor. The inner line of the leg should feel strong, as it is what will be supporting the balance. If there is trouble straightening the bottom leg, we should continue practicing forward folds such as Uttanasa or Paschimottanasana to lengthen the backs of the legs. Step 2: The bottom hand, whether on a block, finger tips or palm, should also feel a grounding press upwards. What does “grounding press upwards” mean? Our grips of the hands and feet should feel so strong and rooted that there is a vacuum-like reaction that pulls up back up. These grips or locks are known as Hasta and Padma Bandhas, helping us find the retention of strength and solidity in a variety of postures. Step 3: Begin opening/twisting outwards of the upper hip and ribcage. Stacking shoulders and hips can be difficult in terms of learning alignment and feeling the sweet-spot in the body. The internal understanding will come with time but you can also depend on a partner or wall’s help. Practice keeping the shoulders in one line and the 90 degree angle of the legs. The partner or wall should help us from arching backwards by feeling the lift of the belly up and in. Step 4: Coming off the wall and playing with balance. When we’re ready to explore deeper, we can try reaching the upper arm into connection with the upper leg. We can also try switching the gaze upwards to feel more energetic extension of the pose. If there is tension in the neck, look down. Last, you can try extending the bottom hand off the ground. Step 5: Balance. At each step, we try finding moments that allow us to be where we are and breathe. How do we know we’re ready to move forward in any posture? By arriving to a place where our breath is comfortable and calm rather than stagnant or struggling. Practice Drishti, focus, as you balance. Feel the body from the inside: Are you breathing? Are you grounding strongly to rise lightly? Are you present in your meeting with the pose? For more information Yoga Journal has great resources about half-moon pose and many others: https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/half-moon-poseNamaste:)

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