Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)


{ NOTE: this was previously Posted on August 6, 2010 here: }

Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)

Writing: Chrisandra Fox

Photography: Faern,

Abiding in yoga, do your work without attachment and with being balanced in success or failure. Balance is called yoga. -Bhagavad Gita (trans. by Georg Feuerstein)

What is the nature of balance? We talk about losing it, finding it, and many of us seek it through yoga and meditation. Among the definitions offered by Mirriam-Webster’s online source are: Stability produced by even distribution of weight on each side of the vertical axis; equipoise between contrasting, opposing, or interacting elements; mental and emotional steadiness; and, (a personal favorite), an aesthetically pleasing integration of elements.

In hatha yoga, we use practices to balance the solar and lunar energies of the body to influence our consciousness and tip the scale in the direction of wholeness. Union. Integration of the dark and the light.

To this end, hatha yoga works to intelligently organize the subtle body energy in a way that cultivates sama, or evenness and calmness throughout the layers of our being. We often speak about yoga as a balance of effort and surrender. Through this practice, we become more aware of where and when we need to give a little more, and where and when we can let go.

This month’s pose features Ardha Chandrasana, the beautiful standing balance, Half Moon pose. Ardha refers to half and “Candra”, the moon, or a brilliant, shining hue of light.

Summer is the expansive time of year, with greater light and warmth that balances the cold, deep inwardness of the winter months. Try practicing Ardha Chandrasana outside this summer, in nature under the vast sky, on grass or sand, or beneath the canopy of your favorite tree. Observe the balance you strike within your pose, energetically rooting down through earth and connecting through your senses to her ever-changing elements. Play with Mother Nature for support and inspiration to more deeply unfold the pulsation of contraction and expansion, and the balance of effort and surrender.

The Pose

Stand with your feet widely placed. Turn your right foot out and your left foot in slightly. Bend your right knee and lower your hand toward the floor or earth (or root, rock, or clump of grass) six inches or so in front of and slightly to the outside of your foot.

Step your left foot in towards your right foot, and as you inhale, float your left leg up, bringing your leg, hip and torso into the same line. Straighten your standing leg, spread across the bases of your toes, and firmly root down through your heel.

Flex your left foot, drawing your inner thigh back and lifting it up toward your groin. Engage your quadriceps to pull up off both knees, creating evenness and tone through your legs.

Now, rotate your torso skyward and lift your left arm up, lengthen through your elbow and spread your fingers. Keep your legs actively engaged as you turn your navel, heart and throat towards the sky.

If you are working with a tree, find a branch to press your raised foot against, and use that support to receive more grounding and stability through your legs. This is different support than what you experience when you lean back into the tree. From the stability of your legs, turn your torso and gaze up towards the sky. Find your freedom as you balance in the pose, expanding your ribs and chest, and gently toning your navel toward your spine for greater internal support.

When you are ready to come out, release your left foot and place it next to your right foot, and take a few breaths with your torso draped over your front thighs in Uttanasana (Intense Forward Stretch).

Inhale and roll up through your spine to return to stand on both feet. Take a moment here to release the effort and integrate the work of Ardha Chandrasana. Then, step your feet widely apart to balance your practice and play with the second side.

Chrisandra Fox teaches weekly classes at Yoga Tree, Yoga Garden and leads The Heart of Renewal Retreats in California and beyond. She teaches in Yoga Tree’s 200-hour Teacher Training.

Faern is a mixed media artist, photographer and yoga practitioner in San Francisco. Visit her website, follow her on Twitter, or like her on Facebook.


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