Some people find that performing the Half Moon pose is easy, while others find it challenging.
To help make this practice easier to everyone, we've broken down the main practice into four essential parts.
Part 1 - Preparatory Poses for Ardha Chandrasana
Before getting into Half Moon pose, it's a wise choice to activate your inner thighs, hamstrings, ankles, obliques, and core muscles. Here's how:
1. Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose): Step your right foot to 90 degrees while keeping at least a four feet long-distance gap between both feet. Keep your left foot angled at 45 degrees in the same direction as your right foot.
Inhale and bend from your right hip joint over your right leg. Hold your right big toe with your fingers and extend your left arm straight toward the ceiling.
Hold this pose on each side for 5 minutes. Feel your chest muscles, back, and ankles activate, and keep your gaze toward your extended top arm.
2. Parsvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose): Start by stepping wide open to the side, the same as you did for Triangle pose. Inhale and internally rotate your shoulder to bring both arms behind to form a reverse namaste formation.
Once you feel comfortable with your arms at your back, inhale and start to bend your torso onto your extended leg forward.
Exhale, rest your head on your leg and feel your obliques, shoulders, tailbone, glutes, and hamstrings activating. Repeat the same on the other side.
Part 2: Step-by-Step Instructions to Perform Ardha Chandrasana
The following are steps to practice the Half Moon pose:
Step 1- Start from Parsvakonasana or Extended Side Angle position. Take 4 to 5 breaths here.
Step 2- Next, move one of your hands back in alignment with your leg extended behind. At the same time, reach your other hand forward, touching the tip of your finger on the mat.
Step 3- Inhale deeply and prepare to balance, exhale, and rise onto your front leg.
Step 4- Your back leg should be lifted up, and your foot should flex sideways in alignment with the side of your mat.
Step 5- Now, root down your balancing foot on the mat, engage your core and quads, and straighten your foundational leg until you feel a good stretch in your hamstrings and glutes.
Step 6- Ensure that your arm is still aligned with your raised leg behind you and that your fingertips touching the mat are aligned with your shoulder. Hold this position for a few breaths.
Step 7- Gaze down, inhale, and reach your top arm up toward the sky in line with your straight arm on the ground (Creating a sideways “T” shape with your arms).
Step 8- If you feel strong while balancing in this pose, then challenge yourself by shifting your gaze from the mat to your raised arm fingertips on the side.
Step 9- Keep inhaling and exhaling while holding Half Moon balance pose. Release by returning to Parsvakonasana and then relax in Uttanasana.
Inhale: While engaging your leg and core muscles, right before getting into the pose.
Exhale: As you raise your extended leg behind.
Inhale and Exhale: While holding the pose on one leg.
Performance Duration for Beginners: Hold Ardha Chandrasana for 15 to 30 seconds on each side.
Performance Duration for Advanced: Hold Ardha Chandrasana for 30-90 seconds on each side
Part 3: Things to Keep in Mind
For a safe and seamless execution of the Half Moon pose, follow these posture cues:
Do not round your spine - Hunching with your spine in Half Moon pose will cause you to trip over and fall. Make sure your spine is lengthened forward, your gaze is focused for the first few seconds on the tip of your fingers, and then you gently shift your eyes to your raised fingers above you.
Keep your leg and hips in line - As you raise your extended leg up into the air, observe how it aligns with your glutes in a mirror. If your leg is raised above the level of your glute muscle, it means you are overextending and can lead to a lower back ache post-practice. So, keep your raised leg aligned straight with your glute muscle for best results.
Part 4: Relaxing Poses After Ardha Chandrasana
The following are a few postures to calm any residual tension in your back legs, core, and spine:
1. Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend) -
Start from Mountain pose with the inner edges of your feet together. Place both hands on your waist and move your feet slightly hip-width apart. Inhale, roll your shoulders back and down and start to bend forward.
Keep your glutes and core engaged as you bend forward. Once you bend forward entirely, avoid overstretching your hamstrings while you rest your face against your knees.
Hold this for 5 to 10 deep breaths until your legs, shoulders, and spine feel loose and comfortable.
2. Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend)-
Remove any leftover tension from your inner thighs, neck, spine, and ankles with this Extended Wide-Leg Forward Bend.
Stand in a wide-legged stance with your hands on your waist and toes parallel to each other. Inhale and stretch your spine backward by gently bending your neck at the back. You’ll start to feel your chest and back muscles opening.
Now, exhale as you bend forward and bring your chest parallel to the ground. Once you reach the ground, place your hands between your legs and relax your neck completely by gazing through your legs.
Hold this position for 5 to 10 deep breaths.