The moon represents feminine, creative forces, and Mother Nature.
One of the goals of yoga is to create balance between opposing forces. Through the practice of yoga asanas we can begin to see the importance of balancing some of our more sun affiliated qualities – reasoning, logic– with more moon-like qualities such as intuition.
You may notice that “Half-moon” or Ardha Chandrasana reappears relatively frequently within the names of yoga poses. Yogis favour balance in all things. Half-moon implies a perfect balance since the moon is caught right in the middle of its waxing and waning phases, halfway between luminosity and darkness.
Benefits of Half Moon Pose
- The lifting of the chest expands the intercostal area and allows for healthier breathing patterns.
- Opens the vertebrae and stretches the muscles on both sides of the body. Lateral flexion is not a movement that is necessarily incorporated into our daily movements. It is therefore extra important to include it in your yoga practice as the spine needs to maintain an optimal range of motion in all directions.
- Improves overall circulation.
- People with heart disease, high blood pressure, spinal injury, stroke, or lower back pain should approach half-moon pose with caution.
- If the multifidus has once been injured, it is often weakened and will not be as strong on one side. Caution should be taken while contracting the injured side. If discomfort occurs, practice this asana lying down. This offers greater support for the vertebrae and does not require as much strength in the spinal muscles to protect the back.
- Stand with your toes touching and your heels half an inch apart. Spread and lift your toes and feel all four corners of each foot come into contact with the earth. Feel that your weight is evenly distributed on the outside and inside of the feet. Feel a gentle pressure across the entire ball of the foot.
- Maintain this activation of the feet as you gently release your toes onto the mat.
- Bring one or both arms overhead.
- If both are raised, the arms can either be parallel with the hands straight above the shoulders or you can interlace your fingers, forming a steeple with your index fingers up toward the ceiling.
- As you inhale, reach up through your waist as if you are moving through two panes of glass. Bring your torso, arms, and head a few inches to one side.
- Stay where you are for a couple of breaths. Notice how you are feeling. Ideally, you want to feel the sweet sensation of a stretch while still being able to hold the posture steadily. If you need a deeper stretch, come deeper into the pose.
- Engage the Bandhas to engage the muscles in the core of your body. Start with the Mulabandha, lifting the muscles of your pelvic floor.
- Keep your pelvis stable and neutral.
- Stretch upward through the sides of your body, keeping your shoulder-blades down and arms active.
- Feel your body lengthen from earth to sky, strengthening your core muscles and the muscles next to the spine. Feel space between each and every vertebra, and allow each inhale to expand these spaces a little more. This brings the lumbar, thoracic, and cervical curves into a mild extension.
- The knee joints are extended, but be sure not to hyper-extend.
- Feel the muscles of the legs hugging the bones.
- Use your core strength to bring your torso back up to neutral spine. Repeat Half Moon Pose on the other side to balance the muscles on both sides of the body.