Half Moon Pose: Ardha Chandrasana
- Expands your chest and shoulders.
- Increases mobility of your hip joints.
- Increases neck mobility.
- Lengthens your spinal muscles.
- Strengthens and tones muscles of your thighs and calves.
- Stretches your hamstrings and groin muscles.
- Increases proprioception (the sense of position in space) of the feet and ankles.
- Traditionally thought to improve digestion and menstruation, relieve stress and aid in healing diseases of your legs.
- Neck Pain - Keep the head level and look straight forward.
- Low Back Pain / Sacroiliac Pain - Ensure you are drawing in the muscles of your lower belly and the muscles of your pelvic floor (used to stop the flow of urine) to support your pelvis and low back before entering the pose.
- Low Blood Pressure - This pose is similar to other inversions, where the head is below the heart. Use a block under your support hand (see below) to raise your head to the same level as your heart, or above.
ardha = half
candra = shining, translated as "moon"
- Stand at the top of your mat in Mountain Pose. Take a big step back (approximately 3 feet) with your right foot, turning your foot towards the side of the mat while keeping your left toes pointing forward. Your two hip points are now facing the side of the mat.
- Take the arms out in a “T” with your palms pointing down; your shoulders are relaxed while moving your shoulder blades down your back.
- Place you right hand at your waist.
- Start to bend your left knee, gradually shifting your weight into your left leg as you lift your right foot off the floor. Maintain equal weight in your inner arch, outer arch, forefoot, and heel of your standing foot.
- Simultaneously allow your left hand to float towards the floor or a block (see below), “spidering” your fingers so that you are on the finger pads with fingers spread.
- Your hand should be roughly 12 inches in front of your left foot, stacked directly under your shoulder. Look down to begin, finding a drishti, or gaze point that is unmoving.
- Keep reaching out through the top of your head to encourage length in the spine and neck
- Flex your right foot strongly to align the shin, keeping your toes pointing to the side wall.
- Pressing out through your heel to lengthen the leg, raise your leg so that it is parallel to the floor or eventually slightly higher to be in a long line continuous with your waist.
- Keeping your left knee cap lifted so that the quadriceps is contracted, begin to straighten your standing leg. Imagine your tail tucking under gently so that your right hip opens further to the right wall.
- To deepen the pose you may extend your right arm up towards the sky, palm facing the same direction as your right toes. You may also turn your gaze to the side wall, or up to your right hand, continuing to lengthen out through the top of your head.
- Breathe comfortably for at least five breaths.
- To exit the pose, exhale looking down towards your left foot, lower the right hand to your waist, gracefully lowering the right foot back to the earth just as you began.
- Draw the low belly in, root down through your feet, and inhale as you rise up.
- Turn on your heels and repeat on the opposite side.
- Using a Block - Before you enter the pose, place a block at the top of the mat. The block has three heights – tall and skinny, short and skinny, and short and wide. Use the block just as you would use the floor. Often a block can enable us to achieve more space and enjoyment in our pose.
- Although the intention is to square our hips to side of the mat, do not force this action which can put unnecessary stress across the joints of the lower back.
- First focus on stability and strength in both legs – rooting with all four corners of the standing foot, and pressing out through the heel of the raised leg – next ensure length in the spine by reaching out through the crown of your head as well as through the tailbone. Then you can gently tuck the tailbone and start to imagine an outward rotation at both hips to open deeper into the pelvis.
- Do not lock your knee joint of the standing leg. Engage the quadriceps (front thigh muscle) by lifting the knee cap up the leg. This avoids hyperextension in the knee joint.
- If you have neck pain, keep your head level and look straight forward. If the pain persists, you are not ready for the pose.
Article written by Dr. Robin Armstrong:
Dr. Robin Armstrong is a Vancouver chiropractor and yoga instructor. Robin blends her western knowledge gained from her experience as a chiropractor, with the ancient eastern knowledge passed through generations of yoga teachers. Robin’s classes emphasize safety, breath, alignment, and movement, while teaching students ways to strengthen and lengthen their bodies to handle the stresses of our modern lifestyle. If you are coming to her as a patient, expect to be prescribed yoga! Learn more about Dr. Armstrong at www.stayactive.ca