Tone your legs up in this balancing posture called the half moon pose (Ardha Chandrasana) that realigns your hips and sacral spine.
(Pronounced as "are-dah chan-DRAHS-anna")
Ardha Candra means "half moon" in Sanskrit. In the traditional Hatha Yoga system, they name many channels of energy in the body. The two biggest ones move solar and lunar energy through your body. This posture promotes healing through enhancing the lunar energy, which helps to cool and calm the body.
Get into Triangle Pose, or Utthita Trikonasana. As you bend down to your right side, focus intently on the feeling of pushing your left heel firmly into the floor and try to memorize the sensation. Now bend your right front knee to place your right fingertips on the floor about one foot in front of your right foot. Orient your right hand so that your right thumb is in line with your right pinky toe.
Take a breath. When you exhale, straighten your left leg and lift it up as if you are performing Triangle Pose in the air, extending through your left heel. Straighten your right leg and keep your right thigh muscles as active as possible, balancing all your weight on your right foot. Use your right hand on the floor to help maintain your balance, not to support some of your weight. Press your right big toe down hard to steady your weight on your right foot. Keep your right knee facing to the side so that it remains in line with the center of your right knee cap. Do not lock your right leg straight, but do keep your right thigh muscles lifted up and away from the kneecap.
Put your left hand on your left hip and slightly turn your torso up and away from the floor. Use your left hand on your left hip to check that you do not let your left toes, left knee or left thigh point down toward the floor. Also check with your left hand that you have only raised your left leg up enough to keep it in line with your left hip.
Gaze down if it is difficult to balance. Once you feel steady, go ahead and look up in front of you, keeping your neck in a neutral position.
If you are comfortable here and want to go deeper into the pose, then continue stretching your raised left leg through the left heel as you raise your left hand up in the air. Bring the left hand up until it points straight up right above your shoulder. You should form a straight line between your lifted left hand above you and your right hand on the floor beneath you. Expand your chest as your hands spread away from each other in opposite directions.
Hold this posture for 30 seconds or longer up to your capacity. To come out, exhale as you gradually lower your left leg and come back to Triangle Pose. Now repeat the posture on your left side and hold it for the same duration.
To practice how to get the right balance in this pose, you can use a wall in two ways. For beginners, stand with your back against the wall. Do Triangle pose while pressing your back and the back of your front leg against the wall. Then after you've put your hand down on the floor to balance, lean back against the wall as you lift your back leg up straight.
Once you are comfortable with that variation, then try it standing at one leg's distance from the wall. Perform Half-Moon Pose so that when you raise your back leg, you can press your back heel against the wall to get the correct action in your hips. Keep your legs straight as you press the sole of your foot into the wall, letting the wall help you keep it lifted.
When you advance in this pose, then you can press your entire palm into the floor instead of supporting yourself with your fingertips or a block. Raise your upper arm up perpendicular to the floor and pull your shoulder blades closer together as you open your chest.
Once you have full confidence in this posture, you can even practice it without placing your hand on the floor at all. Rest your bottom hand on your standing thigh instead and try to hold this position for 30 seconds.
Ask a partner to help support you as you try a harder variation of the pose that opens your hips more, which makes the traditional Half-Moon Pose much easier. As you come into the pose as normal, have your partner stand behind you and hold your back leg up in the air. If you wobble on your standing foot at any time, then they can also put one hand against your back to help steady you.
Now bend down lower as you gradually move your hand on the floor back closer and closer to the foot of your standing leg. As you move your hand back, you can bend your raised leg slightly to accommodate your twisting torso. At the maximum, you can touch your fingers on the floor right next to the outside of your standing heel. Instead of raising up your other arm, let it come down to the floor as well in front of you naturally for support.
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