Today is a big day! The sun is shining in my face, the birds are chirping, and I am sweating through my mat while practicing traditional yoga poses. But wait, it’s not that full-open half-moon poses everyone’s always doing these days. We’re going to start with a simpler pose that has some serious benefits of its own – the wobble-free half-moon pose.
When I say “wobble-free”, I mean it – this pose looks and feels as if it’s not even possible, yet as you will soon see, it is very much achievable!
Half-Moon posture, also known as Ardha Chandrasana, is a challenging pose to say the least. It generally takes a couple of years of practice to be able to do it, and even then it can be very unstable. The upper body is in a very challenging pose, and the foundation of this pose is even more challenging since you’re working on 3 points of your feet (yes, only 3!)
The two primary challenges that make the full half moon pose unstable are:
- The center of mass is separated from the center of gravity by a significant distance.
- The two legs are not parallel. They are doing opposite and opposing movements, thereby not balancing each other out as much as they should be.
To complete this pose more easily and to reap all its benefits, you can use some props such as bolsters to set up your body in a way so that you can use less effort to stabilize it in a proper position.
We’ll dive right in. Here’s what you’re going to need: a yoga mat, your body (of course), and a willingness to experiment.
Kneel with a flat back on your hands and knees.Spread your fingers, especially your index andthumb, as wide as possible.Now cup each hand under the opposite armpit so that your head hangs down slightly off-center from the spine. Keep things nice and easy by keeping this pose symmetrical on either side of the midline of the body.
Now bring the knees in, making sure that they aren’t twisted or contorted. Gently bring them in, until the hips are almost parallel to the floor. If you’ve never tried this pose before, it might feel as if your knees are pointing in different directions than your feet. Don’t let this anxiety stop you – just take a breath and mentally adjust things so that your pelvis is parallel to the floor. Squeeze your legs together at this point and lean forward from the hip joints until you feel a nice stretch in your hamstrings.
The next step is to use your hands to slowly tip the hips back again. Draw your legs and hips as close to the midline of the body (the spine) as you can. You should feel a nice stretch in your hamstrings, quads, and lower back at this point.
The final step is to twist the pelvis slowly to one side, placing one hand on the floor behind the hip (make sure your shoulder is above your hand when you do this!) and then bringing that hand under your head with the palm facing down. The goal here is simply to twist enough that there is a nice stretch across most of your side body from armpit to armpit.
Now that you’re in this “wobble-free” position, hold for as long as possible. I know it’s going to be a challenge for some to hold this pose for much longer than 20-25 seconds, but the more you play with it, the easier it will become. The reason it’s so hard initially is that at first, you don’t feel any real side body stretch because your legs are shaking back and forth so much.
So the next time you try it feel free to mess with the pose, adding more twists at the hips and rounding more aggressively at the shoulders until you feel a nice full stretch from armpit to armpit. Hold for as long as it feels good, and then slowly return to starting position.
That’s all there is to it! You now know how to wobble-free half-moon pose.
As you can see, there are 3 key elements to wobble free pose.
First is the wobbling motion at the hips (as you see in the above picture). To stay upright and maintain balance, we need to find a way to eliminate this wobbling motion by just allowing our hips to gently move side to side as if there were a string attached from our pelvis to our hands. This means simply letting your hips act on themselves – that is, not trying too hard not to be wobbly!
The second is what happens when you twist at the hip. When we perform this pivot, it actually creates more of a hinge in the body so that we create both anterior and posterior rotation about those same joints. In plain, English this means that when you twist at the hip, you are causing your hips and legs to rotate, but you are also creating a little bit of rotation in your torso about the shoulders and chest.
It is important to note that twisting at the hip is not the same sort of twisting as in a fishhook or other “inverted” pose. In this pose, there is no rotation at all in the torso, just in the legs.
The third is what happens when you place your hand on the floor behind your shoulder. It’s a really neat feeling when you do this. It’s as if you are slowly descending into the floor, and your right hand is acting as an anchor (or even a brake depending on how hard you pull) for your body.
In reality, there is no string attached from the pelvis to hands, nor is there an anchor beneath your shoulder. The only thing that’s happening is that the pivot at the hip has resulted in a pivot at our shoulder girdle from back to front. Notice how much more centered our shoulders are in this image compared to the typical crescent shape we have in our regular half-moon pose.
Now that you’ve learned the wobble free half moon pose, the only thing left is to find a good base to learn this pose on. Luckily there are plenty of options! Here are some poses I recommend for wobble free half moon:
Half lotus. This is one of my favorite yoga asanas. Even beginners can do this pose with the perfect form once they’ve learned how to squat properly. Low plank. Again, the low plank is an excellent foundational pose for all the yoga postures you want to learn (and even ones you don’t). If your arms aren’t strong enough yet, get a bolster or pillow to prop them up on and use your forearms as an anchor instead of a hand placement. Half-moon on the roller. You can do this pose on an exercise ball, but I like using the roller because it allows me to get really low. Here’s how to set up a yoga half moon on the roller.
And there you have it! You now know how to wobble-free half-moon pose, and you should be able to hold it for at least 30 seconds.