Derived from the roots Ardha = half, Chandra = moon, Ardha Chandrasana is known as the half-moon pose.
How to perform Ardha Chandrasana
- Stand in the pose of Tadasana and then perform Utthita Trikonasana.
- After moving to the position of Trikonasana on the right side, during a gentle and long exhalation, keep your right palm placed directly underneath the shoulder (possibly to a brick) at some distance from the right foot by contracting or bending the right knee. During this movement, also bring your left foot closer to your right foot on the floor. Please note that for correct alignment on the base foot the knee should be tracking directly over the big toe. You must try to avoid the internal rotation of the foot, hip and leg.
- Remain in this position and take two deep breaths. Then during an exhalation, raise your left leg from the ground keeping it straight and toes pointing (plantar flexion – tha pada bandha) or moving towards the knees (dorsiflexion – ha pada bandha). Also lengthen the right leg to hip height and suction up through right hand (ha hasta bandha), having the middle finger of the supporting hand facing directly forward on the brick, with the hand flat to the brick.
- Lengthen your left hand and keep your left palm on your left hip. Stretch your whole torso in this position while keeping the shoulders well up. Pull the shoulder girdle away from your neck, lengthening the neck on both sides. Keep the head level with your spine to strengthen the muscles of the neck. Avoid letting the head hang to the floor. Move your chest to the left side and maintain a balance.
- In this position, the weight of your whole body is on your right hip and right foot. Make sure you counter this by lifting your weight up by lifting from your inner ankle, inner shin, inner knee, inner thigh, before lengthening and rotating your spine. The right hand is used only as a support and to maintain balance, so lift from the hand and arm even against the weight of gravity.
- To create load on the muscles to improve extensibility (or flexibility) on the supporting leg, try and “drag” the foot on the floor towards the end of your mat, creating traction and load on the leg muscles.
- Stay in this position for 20-30 seconds while breathing evenly through your nose. Move the left leg and keep it on the ground and return back to trikonasana.
- Repeat the position with the left leg as your supporting leg.
Ardha Chandrasana Benefits
- This asana is beneficial for strengthening and toning the muscles of the legs and lower portion of the spine.
- This asana tensions the nerves supplying the leg muscles, such as the sciatic and femoral nerves.
- This asana may help in strengthening the ligaments and tendons of the knee joints if performed correctly.
- This asana also stimulate digestion by twisting and enhancing the flow of samana vayu.
- This asana will stimulate the flow of vyana vayu – the flow of prana from heart to limbs which may stimulate flow of blood and lymphatic fluids around the body.
- This asana may remove phlegm and congestion on the chest (avalambhaka kapha)
- This asana stimulates Hridaya marma (central heart marma point) and Nabhi marma (central abdominal marma point) including the many marma points of the supporting leg and foot.
Contradictions & Cautions
- This asana should not be done by individuals who feel lethargy, chronic fatigue or feel unbalanced, especially in the standing poses.
- This asana should only be done by individuals whose bodies are strengthened in the legs and lower back.
- This asana should be performed with caution by individuals with disc problems, lower back problems or sciatica and piriformis syndrome.
- Supta Baddha Konasana
- Supta Padangusthasana I & II
- Utthita Parsvottanasana
- Utthita Parsvakonasana
- Utthita Trikonasana
- Prasarita Padottanasana
Ardha Chandrasana is usually sequenced somewhere in the middle of a standing pose series, usually after Utthita Trikonasana. The following poses could be used to counter pose and progress the sequence.
- Parivrtta Trikonasana
- Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana
- Prasarita Padottanasana
Many students have difficulty touching the floor with their lower hand, even when resting it on the fingertips. A brick or chair can be used to lift the hand and align the spine more naturally and even make the posture more correct (and sometimes more) challenging by assisting the student to work higher up and with the more exact alignment cues. It is ideal that students support their hand on a block. You may like to try variations and start with the block at its highest height and, if your balance is steady and comfortable, lower it down first to its middle height, then finally if possible to its lowest height. You can use a wall behind you to balance your body upon and this can provide good proprioception and neural feedback as to where you are in space, making the posture more stable, but stronger balance with the alignment being corrected by the wall.
To increase the challenge of this pose, raise the lower hand away from the floor or block and rest it in the air or on the standing thigh. Balance solely on the standing leg for 15 to 30 seconds or for 5 to 10 breaths.
Modifications and Props
Balance is always tricky in this pose for beginners. A wall is a useful prop, which you can use in one of two ways. Stand with your back to the wall, one leg’s length away from the wall. Exhale and bend forward into a standing forward bend, then inhale and raise your left leg parallel to the floor and press the left sole against the wall. Start with your toes turned toward the floor. Exhale again and rotate your torso to the left; at the same time, turn the left leg and foot until the inner foot is parallel to the floor. Rest your left hand on the left hip. The pressure of the raised heel against the wall will help you maintain your balance. You can also perform the pose with your back towards, and leaning against the wall.
Deepen the Pose
Advanced students can raise the top arm, with an inhalation, perpendicular to the floor. Firm the top scapula against the back. Imagine there’s another hand pressing towards yours in front of you, and press the top hand actively into this other hand. Then, if your balance is steady, try slowly rotating the head to gaze up at the raised hand, placing your gaze at the thumb nail.
© Celia Roberts
All research and literature based on original documents written by Celia Roberts. This manual and the information contained within it is not to be copied, replicated, or distributed without permission. Images and additional information has been sourced from Light on Yoga by B.K. Iyengar, yogajournal.com, yogajournal.com.au for your convenience.