Half Moon Pose
Half Moon Pose is a standing yoga posture that will challenge your leg muscles and your ability to balance. It can also be a fun pose to transition into from Extended Triangle (Utthita Trikonasana)! The two poses are similar in their full-body extension; Half Moon is like a balancing variation of Triangle.
The moon has a rich symbolic significance in yoga mythology. In Hatha Yoga, for example, the sun and the moon represent the two polar energies of the human body. In fact, the word hatha itself is often divided into its two constituent syllables, “ha” and “tha”, which are then esoterically interpreted as signifying the solar and lunar energies respectively.
Benefits of Half Moon Pose
Half Moon Pose strengthens the thighs, ankles, abdomen, and buttocks. It opens the chest, shoulders, and torso, while lengthening the spine. This pose also effectively stretches the groins, hamstrings, and calves.
Because your heart is higher than your head in Half Moon, this pose also provides the benefits of mild inversions, including relief from stress, anxiety, and fatigue. Half Moon, like Extended Triangle Pose, also stimulates the organs of the torso, which can provide relief from digestive distress, such as indigestion and constipation. When practiced correctly, this pose is therapeutic for sciatica and lower back pain.
Most notably, Half Moon improves your sense of balance and full-body coordination. It helps to increase your body awareness and the sense of your body’s position in space (this sense is called "proprioception"). Improving your proprioception can bring more poise to your everyday activities. It can also help you prevent the risk of injury by making you more aware of your body’s position and movements.
Do not practice Half Moon Pose if you have low blood pressure or are currently experiencing headaches, insomnia, or diarrhea. Those with neck injuries should not turn their heads to face the top hand, but should continue looking straight ahead. Always work within your own range of limits and abilities. If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga.
How to Do Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana)
- Begin in triangle pose - trikonasana with the right leg forward. Bend your right knee softly and bring your left hand to your hip.
- Bring your right hand to the floor in front of your right foot. Your hand should be under your shoulder when you are in the full pose, so in order to set it up in the correct position, place it about a foot in front of and five or six inches to the right of your right foot. Tent your hand so that just your fingertips on the floor.
- Begin to straighten your right leg while simultaneously lifting your left foot off the floor. Keep your left leg as straight as possible.
- Open your hips, stacking the left hip point on top of the right hip point.
- Bring your left leg straight and parallel to the floor. Flex your left foot strongly with the toes pointing toward the left side of the room.
- When you feel balanced on the right leg, reach the left arm up toward the ceiling, opening the chest and making a straight line with the right and left arms perpendicular to the floor.
- Finally, turn your head so that your gaze is lifted toward your upraised left fingertips.
- Balance here for around five breaths before releasing the left leg to the floor and repeating the pose on the other side.
Don’t be afraid to fall down—it’s totally part of the process. Just set up and try it again!
Half Moon Pose for Beginners
Balance is always tricky in this pose for beginners. A wall is a useful prop, which you can use in one of two ways. Stand with your back to the wall, one leg’s length away from the wall. Exhale and bend forward into a standing forward bend, then inhale and raise your left leg parallel to the floor and press the left sole against the wall. Start with your toes turned toward the floor. Exhale again and rotate your torso to the left; at the same time, turn the left leg and foot until the inner foot is parallel to the floor. Rest your left hand on the left hip. The pressure of the raised heel against the wall will help you maintain your balance. You can also perform the pose with your back to, and leaning against, the wall.
- Placing a block under the right hand is a good idea for a lot of people. If you have trouble reaching the floor with your right hand, it tends to make the chest rotate toward the floor, which is not the optimal alignment. Giving your hand that extra elevation allows the chest to open toward the ceiling more effectively.
- It’s ok if you take several steps in with your left foot before lifting it up instead of one big step as described in step 3 above.
- If balancing on one leg is a really big challenge for you, do the pose near a wall and bring your left foot to the wall when you raise the left leg. This is also a good way to practice getting the left leg parallel to the floor.
Half Moon Pose for Advanced
Practicing Half Moon Pose will strengthen and stretch your entire body. Advanced students can raise the top arm, with an inhalation, perpendicular to the floor. Firm the top scapula against the back. Imagine there’s a wall in front of you, and press the top hand actively into this pretend wall. Then, if your balance is steady, try slowly rotating the head to gaze up at the raised hand.
- Start to take the weight out of your right hand until just the tip of your middle finger is touching the floor. You can even hover the right hand a few inches off of the floor. If you do this, make sure to keep your alignment solid in the rest of your pose.
- Bend your left leg. Reach back and clasp your ankle with your left hand for Sugarcane Pose.
Over the Moon
Half Moon can challenge your practice in new ways. Remember to breathe smoothly throughout the pose. As you continually draw your awareness back to your breath, you can stay calm and aware of the present moment. Don’t be afraid to fall — just try the pose again. Relax your breath, focus your mind, and take it slowly. With practice and patience, you’ll be balancing gracefully in space, just like the moon.