The crescent moon pose is more than a mere lunge. Apart from the sun salutation, the crescent moon is also practiced as part of the moon salutation (Chandra Namaskar) since it is an ideal pose to practice if you are tired and need to stretch your limbs before bedtime.
It has many variations and can be practiced by almost everyone.
If you are comfortable holding this pose, you can follow this pose with the Warrior series. However, if you are a beginner, read on to find out more about this pose and how you can effectively practice it:
The Basics of Crescent Pose:
In Sanskrit, the crescent pose is known by many names such as ‘Anjanesasna’, ‘Ashwa Sanchalasana’, and ‘Ardha Chandrasana’. While the different schools of yoga may refer to it by different names, they are all the same and have the same benefits on the body and mind. While one is a high lunge, the other is a low lunge, and you can practice this either during the Virabhadrasana series for strength or during a hip opening sequence.
The pose targets the hamstrings, glutes, knees, back, and core. It can be practiced by beginners as well as intermediate and advanced practitioners of yoga.
The Benefits Of Crescent Pose:
This pose strengthens the entire skeletal structure since it stretches the entire body as opposed to just one concentrated part. Practicing it long-term will make you limber and greatly flexible.
Since it stretches the chest, neck, shoulders, and back it can help remove phlegm and congestion. Also, it improves one’s sense of balance and is ideal for those seeking to deepen their practice of inversion poses.
How to Practice the Crescent Pose
- Stand erect on your mat.
- Bend forward and place your palms on the ground with the fingers pointing forwards. Your hands should be parallel to your shoulders.
- Bend your right knee and place your right foot in between your palms, towards your right palm.
- Extend your left leg, straighten your knee and place your left toes on the ground.
- Depending on your level of flexibility, raise your hands and bring them together in the namaskara mudra.
- Arch your back and head as far back as comfortable. Do not strain.
- Your body should be in the shape of a crescent moon starting from your fingertips to the toes.
- Release the pose gently and practice it with the other leg.
- Practice for 5 to 10 rounds, deepening your backbend with every round.
- Once you have finished, relax in a relaxation pose such as the child’s pose or crocodile pose to make sure your body is able to recover from the stretch.
- You can also get into this pose from the downward-facing dog (Adho Mukho Svanasa) depending on your level of flexibility and comfort. Alternatively, you can also start this pose from the tabletop pose if you want to begin from a seated posture.
Common Mistakes While Practicing the Crescent Pose:
The distribution of your body weight should be equal and among the foot and the hands. This will allow you to stretch your back and also open up your chest. For the leg that is stretched back, the knee should not be bent and on the floor.
For the foot that is on the ground, make sure that your toes are aligned with the knee and the knee does not stretch overtly forward.
Lastly, as it is the norm with all other asanas, do not force the movement and hold the pose for only as long as it feels comfortable.
While there are many ways to approach this pose, pick the one that is relevant to you depending on what pose you decide to practice before attempting this. For those with limited flexibility, you may lower the knee of the back leg on the ground if you feel discomfort holding the pose for a long time. However, ensure that your back is sufficiently arched.
For optimum flexibility, approach this from the warrior series. Stand on your mat with your feet apart at shoulder distance, turn your right foot at a ninety-degree angle and turn your body towards your right. You can now gently bend your right knee and lower your trunk without causing too much strain. This is a high-lunge variation of the pose.
A deep stretch is not advised for those with knee or ankle injuries. However, one may practice a high lunge variation without causing injury to their body. Since pressure is placed on the hips and the lower back, it may cause tears in the knee if already weak or injured.
If you have irregular blood pressure, then you should keep your palms on the ground instead of raising them. Stretching the arms above your torso and fixing your gaze upwards may cause stress to your breathing and tightness in your chest.
Variations Of the Crescent Pose:
Instead of joining your hands and stretching backward, you may keep them raised with the fingertips pointing in the upwards direction. You can stay in this pose without stretching back. This variation is ideal for those with limited flexibility when it comes to backbends.
To make it even more comfortable, you may simply place your hands on your hips. This will help you feel more grounded and enable you to concentrate better on the pose.
If you feel discomfort in the hamstrings of the leg that is stretched back, lower your knee to the ground and stretch the leg back slightly. Rest the top of your back foot on the ground. You may also place a cushion or a folded blanket under the knee to make the pose more comfortable.
Lastly, if you are looking for a more challenging variation of this pose, then place your back knee on the ground and then lift your foot away from the floor. You can catch your left big toe with your arms and bend backward so your head can touch the sole of your foot. This is also a variation of the one-legged kind pigeon pose.