Half-Moon Pose  -Ardha Chandrasana

Step by step

  • Have a yoga block handy at the front right-hand corner of your mat. 
  • Start in Warrior 2 with your right foot at the front of your mat, front knee in line with your toes. 
  • Place your left hand on the hip and reach out and then down with your right arm, place your fingertips in front of your right toes.
  • Step your back foot a bit forward, and shift your weight into your right leg.
  • As you press your right foot down, begin to extend the standing leg, as the left leg floats up in line with the hips.
  • Place your right hand on your block directly under the shoulder, towards the little-toe side of your right foot.
  • To find stability in this pose, bring your left leg slightly more forward rather than backward, as it will have the tendency to float in the space behind you.
  • As you keep the right leg strong, engage the left leg by pressing through the ball of the foot.
  • As you move the right sitting bone back, lengthen through the side waists.
  • Open the left arm up towards the ceiling as you revolve your chest.
  • Keep gazing to the floor, to the side or even to the ceiling.
  • Stay for 5 breaths or longer, core and legs engaged.
  • To come out of the pose turn to look at the floor, lower your raised leg and come back out through Warrior 2. Repeat on the other side.

Tips for beginners

  • This is a strong pose with a lot of different elements involved. It challenges and improves your strength, balance and flexibility. You may experiences aches or cramps in your standing leg and buttock so build up the time you spend in the pose gradually.
  • 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. Then stand up facing away from the wall and place your right foot level with the block. Follow the instructions above 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 front foot forwards or backwards until your back foot 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.

Esther Ekhart Half moon pose

Benefits

  • Strengthens the whole body especially the legs, ankles and feet.
  • Improves core stability.
  • Tests and improves focus and balance.

Watch out for

  • Avoid locking your standing knee.
  • Focus on keeping your raised leg in line with your hip: the tendency is to lift it too high or send it back into the space behind you creating a 'banana' back.
  • If you have any issues with your neck, keep looking to the floor. 
  • Avoid this pose in case of hip issues such as arthritis or injuries. It would place too much weight on the hip-joint.
  • Some teachers advise against transitioning from Half-Moon into Warrior 3 or Revolved Half-Moon because all your weight is in your hip joint. If you do this transition make sure you are pressing firmly through the standing leg to create space in your joint before you turn. If in any doubt bring your raised leg down to the mat in between the poses.

Variations

  • 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.
  • Turn Half-moon pose into Sugarcane pose or Ardha Chandra Chapasana by taking hold of the raised foot with your hand. Follow Sandra Carson's Sugarcane sequence for more details.