HALF MOON – ARDHA CHANDRASANA
Moon has a strong symbolic significance in Yoga. The word Hatha is not by chance composed of two syllables: ha, meaning “sun”, and tha, “moon”, representing two counterbalancing principles and forces. Moon in particular, cool and receptive, is associated with femininity and its phases represent the cyclic nature of time and biorhythms.
Derived from Ardha, meaning Half and Chandra, meaning Moon, Half-moon pose is an intermediate level asana that will challenge your balance and strength. Let’s see how.
The simplest ways to enter in Ardha Chandrasana is either from Warrior II or Triangle pose as in all those asanas your shoulders, trunk and hips are open towards the side opposite your front leg.
Supposing to start from Warrior II, there are two options.
Option 1: straighten your right leg (which is still your front leg), foot pointing forward, coming to Trikonasana, but with your trunk perpendicular to the ground. Get you left foot closer to the right and place your right hand on your right thigh or other support, such as a chair. Gently detach your left foot from the ground, lifting the left leg until it is at least parallel to the ground. Your trunk will naturally bend forward, until it’s parallel to the floor.
Option 2: from Warrior II, keep your front leg bent, bend slightly also the back leg and push away from the ground so that both the left leg and trunk rotate by a 90°angle, to be parallel to the ground.
In both cases, don’t think of bending utterly forward or you’ll risk to lose balance. If possible, place your right hand on the ground, right below your shoulder; if not, leave it on the support. Your left arm should point towards the sky: if you can, bring your gaze to your thumb.
Shifting your gaze from the floor to the sky is not easy as sight is fundamental to balance. To begin, you can stop looking to the left, then gradually move upwards.
The first times I performed Half-moon pose, I used to focus mainly on lifting my back leg as much as possible while reaching my left hand to the sky and right hand to the ground without losing balance. This was quite difficult, as you can imagine. One day although, I changed my attitude towards the pose: I started focusing on my chest and heart opening, which made Half-Moon much more significant and enjoyable.
This signed a major change to me: from that moment on, Ardha Chandrasana helps me feel more open and balanced, and I always try to take this attitude with me, also off the mat.
If you feel at ease with the traditional version of Ardha Chandrasana, challenge yourself by twisting your torso to the other side, taking your left hand to the ground below your shoulder and right hand to the sky.
The first times I was trying this variation, it seemed to be impossible to balance, but practice brought me to appreciate the nice twist it provided to my trunk, and helped me foster my balance!
Use a support to introduce it and… good luck!
BENEFITS AND SYMBOLIC MEANING
On the physical level, Half-moon pose is excellent to strengthen the ankles, legs, glutes, shoulders and hips. It also helps opening hips as well as chest and shoulders. Moreover, it will help improving your sense of balance. You will notice that holding the pose on one foot and one hand with your torso rotated is all but easy!
On the emotional level, we must recall that Moon is associated with imagination, emotions, sensitivity and inner self, which should encourage a better knowledge of ourselves finalized to opening to the other with better self-consciousness and confidence.
In the Vedic culture, waxing moon was thought to bring good fortune and to boost energy and activity; waning moon instead was associated to prudence and reflection. According to this belief, Half-moon pose is an invitation to pause for a while and reflect upon our condition and meaning, while looking for or energizing the bliss that everyone naturally has inside him/herself.