When our bodies don’t feel the same every day neither does our yoga practice. This is why we shouldn’t be afraid to change up how we move and explore variants of postures. In this post we’re looking at Half Moon pose.
What often happens in yoga is there is a shape we feel we should be in regardless of how it feels. This Find Your Shape series is here to remind and inspire us all to find shapes that work for us on any given day.
What are we looking to achieve in Half Moon?
Half Moon (Ardha Chandrasana) is first a foremost a balancing posture, one that challenges the body by being on one leg and playing with where the centre of gravity is located. As the leg is being lifted out to the side it also works the muscles that travel along the side of the hip and leg. A great strengthener for muscles that aren’t always used in the more traditional forward and backwards movements of yoga.
Therefore we are looking to feel grounded, to balance and maybe feel some work in the muscles of the outer edge of the leg. All of the variants below are doing exactly that while making different shapes and supporting the body differently.
Important points to remember:
- Your gaze can focus wherever feels good. To the ceiling, to the floor, forwards, on the biscuit tin – whatever works for you
- Think about activating the lifted leg, let it do some of the work
- The top hand doesn’t need to lift, it can stay to the hip
- Using a support doesn’t diminish your pose – use the block, wall, chair or floor – it’s your practice
- It is not necessary for the foot to be as high as pictured but try to activate the leg
Supported Half Moon
Using a block beneath the hand will help balance as it means that more is in contact with the ground. Also by using a block, rather than fingertips to the floor, it can help to rotate the hips rather than becoming more like a forward fold.
To come into this variant make sure the space between the block and the foot is roughly the length of your torso. Place the hand onto the block and come lightly onto the toes of the back foot. From here gradually tilt the body forward, activating the back leg and beginning to lift. Keeping the hand to the hip can really help the proprioception of feeling the hips turn to the side.
This is such a nice variant and one you will know well if you come to my classes. With the body closer to the ground and having the hand and knee down it is easier to balance and therefore the focus can be on the strength in the body.
From hands and knees extend one leg behind you with the toes to the ground. Pivot the other leg out to create that little shelf and bring your weight onto that hand and knee. Peel the arm up to the ceiling, activate the long leg and float it away from the floor. You can gaze towards the top hand or to wherever is most comfortable.
Chair Half Moon
A chair is such a good prop for this kind of posture, ensure it can’t slip or tip and you’re good to go.
Start by standing a little way back from your chair with the legs in a widened stance and the front foot facing towards the chair. Bring a soft bend into the front knee and place the palm onto the chair. Like before activate the back leg and begin to squeeze it up away from the floor. The front leg can stay begin or you can begin to straighten a little without locking the knee out.
Take whatever option with the top arm and gaze works for you
Finding the balance here is tricky (trust me I fell out of it so many times try to shoot this!) but it can also be really empowering when you get it. Any of you who have tried this know it’s the shift of the gaze up where it often gets a bit wobbly!
A lovely way to come into this is from Warrior 2. From there reach the front arm forward and come to stand on the front leg. Gradually tilt the torso forward and down, letting the hand hover. Activate the lifted leg to stay strong and maybe that gaze turns to the top hand
Remember it really is about listening to your body and having the confidence to try something new. See how it feels in your body.
That’s it for this edition of Find Your Shape, check out the link below to discover the whole series. If you tried any of these Half Moon variants or have a favourite please let me know in the comments below