Thursday, July 10, 2008

Pose of the Month: Ardha Chandrasana (Half-moon)

Half moon Pose is a balance between heaven and earth. Rooting the standing leg into the floor, and extending the floating leg from the core, flexing through the foot- balancing in space. The moon provides glistening light- chandra, and illuminates the earth, guiding us into our dream space. The moon governs the tidal waters of the earth and the waters within the female reproductive system. This pose is great for finding extension, especially during pregnancy when you find yourself loosing space in the body.

Take Trikonasana
to the right side, with your left hand resting on the left hip.

Inhale, bend your right knee, and slide your left foot about 6 to 12 inches forward along the floor. At the same time, reach your right hand forward, beyond the little-toe side of the right foot, at least 12 inches.

Exhale, press your right hand and right heel firmly into the floor, and straighten your right leg, and lifting the left leg parallel (or a little above parallel) to the floor. Extend actively through the left heel to keep the raised leg strong. Be careful not to lock the standing knee: make sure the kneecap is aligned straight forward and isn't turned inward.

Rotate your upper torso to the left, but keep the left hip moving slightly forward. Beginners should keep the left hand on the left hip and the head in a neutral position, gazing forward.

Maintain the body's weight mostly on the standing leg. Press the lower hand lightly to the floor, using it to intelligently regulate your balance. Lift the inner ankle of the standing foot strongly upward, as if drawing energy from the earth into the standing leg. Press the sacrum and scapulas firmly against the back torso, and lengthen the tailbone toward the raised heel.

Maintain consistent breath. Stay in this position for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Then lower the raised leg to the floor with an exhalation, and return to Trikonasana. Then take the pose to the left for the same length of time.

  • Strengthens the abdomen, ankles, thighs, buttocks, and spine
  • Stretches the groins, hamstrings and calves, shoulders, chest, and spine
  • Improves coordination and sense of balance
  • Helps relieve stress
  • Improves digestion
Modifications and Props

Balance can be 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. These two options are best for pregnant women.

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