Half-Moon pose / Ardha Chandrasana
Step by step
Have a yoga block handy at the front right-hand corner of your mat. Be sure to warm up before trying out the pose.
- Start in Warrior 2 with your right foot at the front of your mat. Check that your knee is in line with your toes and not bending in towards the inner edge of your foot.
- Bring your left hand to your hip - keep the right arm parallel with the floor.
- Bring your left foot in 30cm or so and begin to shift the weight more into the right leg.
- Exhale as you reach out with the right hand, let your upper body follow and feel the left foot become light on the floor.
- Keeping the front knee bent, bring the right hand down to the floor (or to a block) directly under your shoulder towards the little-toe side of your right foot. Make sure it’s under the shoulder and not too close to your foot.
- Take a breath or two here, engage your lower abdominal muscles, focus on a spot on the floor just in front of you.
- On your next inhale simultaneously raise the back leg as you straighten the standing leg - watch that your raised leg is in line with your spine and not bending back, you should be able to see your toes.
- Press firmly through the standing leg foot without locking the knee and push out through the foot of the lifted leg.
- Try to turn out (externally rotate) the top of the right thigh to roll the right buttock under.
- Keep length in both side waists.
- Inhale as you lift the top arm and reach out through the fingertips.
- Stay looking at the floor or turn your head to look to the side.
- If you have no neck problems and you feel steady you can turn the head to look at your top hand.
- Keep the lower abdominals engaged to help keep your spine in neutral and keep pressing out through both feet to engage the legs.
- Stay in the pose for five deep breaths or longer. To come out of the pose turn to look at the floor, lower your raised leg and come back out through Warrior 2.
- Repeat starting with your left leg in front.
This is a strong pose with a lot of different elements involved. It challenges and improves your strength, balance, flexibility. You may experiences aches or cramps in your standing leg and buttock so build up the time you spend in the pose gradually. Practice it as part of a hip opening yoga class so you can make sure you are warmed up and cooled down before and afterwards.
Using a wall is a great way to work on different elements of the pose. To set yourself up bring the short edge of your mat to the wall and sit in Dandasana with your feet against the wall. Place a block or something to mark where your hips are. This is just to measure the length of your legs so you know where to stand on the mat. Then stand up facing away from the wall and place your right foot level with the block. Follow the instructions (see Step-by step) to come into the pose and press into the wall with your lifted foot. If you need to adjust your position bring both hands to the floor and shift your foot forwards or backwards until it is comfortably flat against the wall. Place your hand on the short edge of the block so that it is at its ‘highest’. From here you can work on all the different actions of the pose with more stability.
- Strengthens the whole body especially the legs, ankles and feet
- Improves core and pelvic stability
- Tests and improves focus and balance
- Complementary poses
Watch out for...
- Locking the knee of the standing leg - you can keep a tiny bend in the knee - this will also work the muscles more.
- Lifting the raised leg too high - instead, keep the leg in line with the hip and focus on creating length and pressing out through the sole of the foot.
- Banana back - notice whether you are arching your back and sending the lifted leg back into the space behind you. To prevent this, engage your abdominal muscles make sure you can see your toes.
If you have neck injuries or tension keep looking to the floor or to the side instead of turning the head to look up.
If you have any hip problems like arthritis or injuries avoid the pose. It will place too much weight on the hip-joint.
Some teachers don’t advise transitioning from Half-Moon to Warrior 3 or Revolved Half-Moon pose as they feel that this grinds the ball and socket joint.
For an extra challenge, raise the lower hand away from the floor or block. Either keep the arm extended so the fingertips are nearly touching the floor, or bring your palm to your chest.
Work on holding this balance for 30 seconds.
- Try it in class