Interconnections of Ardha Chandrasana: Half-Moon Pose
By Ray Long, MD, FRCSC • August 21st, 2011 • 16265 Views
The main story or the primary focus of Ardha Chandrasana is an intense stretch of the hamstring, gluteal, and gastrocnemius muscles on the back of the standing leg. A subplot is the balancing act that takes place in the pose. The actions of maintaining our balance and stretching the muscles on the back of the standing leg are interconnected. For example, contracting the quadriceps and hip flexors of the standing leg helps to maintain balance but also signals the muscles at the back of the leg that are stretching, the hamstrings and gluteals, to relax through the physiological process of reciprocal inhibition. Ardha Chandrasana is a natural progression from the previous two postures (Virabhadrasana II and Utthita Parsvakonasana), projecting the body forward into a balancing pose. Combining the poses in this manner creates synergy and continuity within the practice.
Use the principle of triangulation to locate the focal point in Half-Moon. Triangulation does not necessarily refer to a geometric triangle, but rather a conceptual one, wherein the actions of two structures work together to affect a third. In Ardha Chandrasana, flexing the trunk tilts the pelvis forward and draws the origin (ischial tuberosity) of the standing-leg hamstrings up; this forms one corner of the triangle. Straightening the standing leg takes the insertion of these same muscles in the other direction, forming another corner of the triangle. These two actions combine to lengthen (stretch) the standing-leg hamstrings, creating an apex for our conceptual triangle.
Now, what about the subplot in this pose, the balancing act? How can we use basic principles of physics to assist in the asana? First, if you start to lose balance, you can regain stability by bending the standing knee. Slightly lower the raised leg for additional stability. Both of these actions lower the center of gravity and make it easier to balance. Once you regain stability, engage the quadriceps to straighten the knee while keeping the hip flexed over the thigh. Use the raised leg like a tight-rope walker uses a pole. That is, if you start to fall back, shift the raised leg forward; if you start to fall forward, shift the leg back. The soundtrack of the pose is the breath; focus on your breathing to improve your balance.
Basic Joint Positions
• The standing hip flexes.
• Both knees extend.
• The raised hip externally rotates.
• The shoulders abduct.
• The cervical spine rotates the head to face upward...
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