Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)

Do your practice and all is coming” – Sri K. Pattabhi Jois 

 

One of my favourite poses is Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose).  As I sometimes suffer from lower back pains, this pose is an excellent pose for easing such pains and helps me bring my mind into focus as balance is involved.  Any pose requiring balance is great for clearing the mind as you would be solely focused on maintaining that equilibrium in the pose that you have come into.

How to get into the pose:

  • Inhale. Point one foot forward and step the other back to the middle of the mat. Back foot is perpendicular to the foot in front.  The positioning of the feet is similar to that for Uttitha Trikonasana. 
  • Exhale. Bend the standing leg and place your hand (if your front leg is the right one, place your right hand down; if left leg, then left hand) down on the mat in front of your foot (more challenging) or diagonally outwards from your foot for more support, and raise your other leg so that it is parallel to the ground. Spine is laterally extended.
  • Place your free hand on your raised hip and open the raised hip by rotating it. Vertically align the hips. Torso and hips are in one line.
  • Standing leg can be straightened but keep the knee soft, avoid locking the knee.  Externally rotate the standing leg.
  • Once you find your balance, inhale, raise your arm up and open the chest and feel the energy radiating through your fingertips.

How to get out of the pose:  

  • Inhale. Bend your standing leg slightly and raise your torso up, arms at shoulder level.
  • Exhale. Tadasana.

Tips:

  • Make sure that fingertips are on the mat before lifting the leg to ensure stability. 
  • Place fingertips on the mat instead of the palm.  This will allow better energy to flow through the fingers. The fingers will strengthen and the lowest side of the body can lengthen more.  Also provides more stability if palm cannot be placed on the mat.
  • Place a block under the hand on the mat if you have difficulty balancing. 
  • Standing leg, hip, shoulder blades, and tailbone should be stable so that overall stability in the pose can be achieved. 

Variations:

  • You can first do this pose against the wall to get a feel of the pose without struggling to balance.
  • Insteading of uplifting the arm, rest your hand on your hip and focus on stretching the torso and top leg in opposite directions.

Pose benefits:

  • Relieves lower back pain, sacrum pain, sciatica pain, and lumbar aches
  • Increases flexibility of spinal muscles
  • Eases premenstrual tension
  • Strengthens back, legs, hips, and abdomen

Benefits for muscles:

  1. The following muscles are strengthened:
  • Hip abductors (gluteus medius and gluteus minimus). 
  • Muscles involved in the hip rotation (quadratus femoris, gemellus superior and inferior, obturator internus and externus and the piriformis). 
  • Shoulder and arm muscles.
  1.  The following muscles are stretched:
  • Leg adductors (for example, the pectineus, adductor brevis and adductor longus, the gracilis and adductor magnus). 
  • Hamstring muscles (biceps femoris, semitendinosus and the semimembranosus). 

Contraindications:

  • Recent hip or knee replacement
  • Osteoporosis
  • High blood pressure or eye strain (avoid looking up)