Half moon pose is a standing balance pose. There aren’t many standing balancing poses in yoga and this one can be balanced one leg and one hand, or even just on one leg. It’s a hip-opening pose but with a twist and balance element to it, which makes it a lot more fun than other hip openers.
Most of the transitions into the pose can be quite fun and challenging, like going from warrior 3, which is another standing balance pose, into half moon pose. They all work on the legs and strengthen the muscle groups in that area. Overall, it’s a fun pose that stretches and strengthens, which is everything that can be needed from a yoga pose.
The basics of half moon pose
Half moon pose, otherwise known in Sanskrit as Ardha Chandrasana, is a standing asana that primarily focuses on the legs. It’s a great stretch for the groin and hip area. It also strengthens the inner groin, thigh, adductors, ankles, and glutes all at once. It can take a lot of work to get used to this pose because of all the strength that it requires.
Even though the pose can require a lot of strength it is easily adaptable for beginners and often used as a peak pose in beginner yoga flows. This makes it a beginner to intermediate pose. There are also advanced versions of the pose for those who already have the strength to hold the pose and can do so quite comfortably.
The benefits of practicing half moon pose
Half moon pose has many benefits, one of which is that it can help a person with full-body coordination because of how much work goes into this pose. A lot of thought and grounding needs to happen to find balance and put in all the elements that make the pose work and balance as it does. It also strengthens the ankles, calves, thighs, groin, and adductors all whilst opening the hip and the heart.
Opening the hips continuously allows for a higher range in flexibility and opening the heart strengthens the spine. In half moon, the heart space is also slightly above the head, which makes it a sort of inversion. Therefore, by practicing this pose you would receive the same benefits of an inversion. These benefits include; relaxation, relief from anxiety, and feeling stress-free.
How to do half moon pose
Step by step instructions for practicing half moon
- Begin in Tidasana, a standing position with feet together and arms resting by your side with palms facing forward.
- From there, place your right hand on the ground an arm’s length in front of you and slightly more to the right. Spider the fingers so that you’re mostly leaning on your fingertips, this should allow you to straighten your legs.
- Ground into your right foot and make sure it’s facing forward as you push into your right foot and right hand to lift the left leg. Engage the muscles in the left leg and allow your hips to open so that they’re almost stacking on top of each other.
- All the while, focus on something to the left of you that isn’t moving to help with balance.
- Then slowly reach your left arm up to the sky and try to get your arms into a perfect T shape so that they’re stacked as well.
- Try looking up to the left hand if it’s okay with the neck or continue looking straight ahead. Hold for 5- 10 breaths before slowly bringing the leg back down and lifting to standing to go to the left side.
Common mistakes made when practicing half moon pose
The biggest mistake made when practicing this pose is that people try to sort out their arms first and then plunge straight into the pose. Once in the pose, they must readjust and fall around for a bit to find the correct footing. Poses should always be worked on from the ground up so that by the time you’re all the way into the pose, everything is correctly aligned.
Another thing people forget to do in almost all balancing poses is to focus their Drishti (focal point). Balancing is extremely difficult when there is no point of focus, it makes it a lot easier to have somewhere to focus before going into the pose. Maintaining Drishti also makes it easier to hold the pose. People forget to engage the leg that’s going up and make the standing leg do all the work. Engaging the leg going up makes the pose easier to hold and builds strength in that leg, which is essentially what’s wanted from the pose.
Starting from the ground up is always beneficial. Go slowly into the pose and don’t rush moving into it. Mistakes are made when rushing and the transitions in yoga are just as important as the final pose. Using a block, bolster, or blanket under the hand on the floor is also extremely beneficial. It helps a person work their way into getting the hand onto the floor and aligning the pose is much easier with support under the hand. Remember to broaden the collarbones and not to sink the shoulders forward, the chest should be open.
This pose shouldn’t be practiced if someone is sick or has low blood pressure. If someone has neck pain or a neck injury, they also shouldn’t be doing this pose. Any physical activity must be authorised by a doctor or physician before being done. Always stay safe and listen to your own body.
To make this pose easier, using a block under the hand on the floor allows for greater support and alignment. It can also be done with the back against a wall. This is a good way to ensure the shoulders are opened and the arms and legs are stacked. Both arms, the back, and both legs should be up against the wall to ensure proper alignment.
To make half moon harder it can be done with both hands off the floor. Therefore, the only thing touching the ground would be the foot being stood on. This makes it a lot harder to balance and all the muscles need to be engaged more to be kept off the ground. This variation also builds more strength whilst getting the same stretch.