Discover the Power of Spinal Rotation in Half Moon Pose

Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose) is an especially challenging standing balance. This posture incorporates a balance on one leg with the arms reaching out, external rotation in the thighs, length and strength through the core, and so much more. All of this makes it difficult to find balance and alignment simultaneously. Thankfully, there are variations that you can practice to help manage the balance element so that you can more readily pay attention to your alignment, and improve your spinal rotation in Half Moon. 

Try This Variation of Half Moon Pose to Manage Balance and Find Your Alignment:

There are countless different focal points that you could draw your attention to in Half Moon Pose. But for this variation, the focus will mainly be on spinal rotation.

For this version, you’ll need a yoga block, a chair, and some wall space.

Setting Up Triangle Pose to Transition to Half Moon:

  1. Start by setting up for Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose) to transition into Half Moon.
  2. With the short edge of your mat touching the wall, stand on your mat facing the long edge so the wall is to your right. Prep a block and a chair in front of you.
  3. Place the pinky edge of your right foot against the wall and walk your feet wide apart until they’re roughly one of your own leg’s distance apart from each other. 
  4. Lift your left heel off the ground, and soften your knee. Then, from deep within your hip socket, externally rotate your left leg so that your toes point toward the short edge of your mat. 
  5. Release your heel back down to the floor.
  6. Press down against your front foot to straighten your left leg, but maintain the external rotation within your hip. Externally rotate the thigh, rolling your inner thigh toward your outer thigh to keep your external rotators engaged.
  7. Ground down firmly into both feet and press the outer edge of your back foot into the wall behind you.
  8. Energetically lift your hips up away from the floor and visualize lifting your ribcage up away from your hips to lengthen your spine.
  9. Stretch your left arm forward toward your front foot and lengthen the left side of your waistline as you lean forward. Avoid rounding into your side body—instead, keep relatively equal length on both sides of your torso. 
  10. Release your left hand onto your block on any height setting that feels appropriate. Then, press your right hand into either the back or the seat of your chair in front of you.How to practice Triangle Pose (Trikonasana) with a block
  11. Press down into your props as leverage to really twist and rotate your whole spine to open your chest. 
  12. Roll the right side of your ribcage toward the sky and spiral the left side of your ribcage toward the long edge of your mat. Visualize stacking your right lung over your left.

Transitioning from Triangle Pose to Half Moon:

  1. Once you’ve established a stable and strong Triangle Pose, bend your front knee and maintain the external rotation through your thigh.
  2. Keep all of the activations you created as you slide your chair forward and place your block about a foot in front of and on the outside of your left foot.
  3. Shift your weight onto your left foot and press down into your props so that you can lift your right leg off the floor. 
  4. Slide your right foot up the wall until it reaches roughly the height of your hips.
  5. Lengthen your left side body, stabilize your core, and root down into your hands to spiral your torso and stack your top ribs over your bottom ribs.                                  How to practice Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon) at the wall
  6. Stay and hold for a few long, deep breaths. Then, release out the way that you came in by moving back through Triangle Pose for a breath before returning back up to a standing position. Repeat all the same steps on the opposite side.

Tips and Tricks for Half Moon Pose

  • To prepare, lengthen your tailbone toward the floor and lift the fronts of your hips as you press down into your feet to neutralize your pelvis.
  • Maintain external rotation in your front thigh throughout the pose, rolling your inner thigh toward your outer thigh to feel your hip external rotators activate in your buttocks.How to practice Half Moon (Ardha Chandrasana) with a block
  • Avoid the tendency to allow your torso to sink down toward the floor with gravity. Instead, actively lengthen both sides of your waistline. Integrate your core as you resist gravity to spiral your chest open toward the side of your mat.
  • Press firmly into the chair to rotate your bottom ribs under your top ribs. Match your press into the chair with core engagement to help find spinal rotation.
  • Imagine reaching your legs and your waist away from your pelvis to create length across your whole body.
  • Kick your foot back into the wall behind you to keep your back leg strong and active.
  • As with all yoga practice, always listen to your internal teacher and never force any actions in your body.

Explore the Power of Spinal Rotation With Half Moon Pose

Ardha Chandrasana really is a full-body posture. There are so many different elements and actions in this shape. As practitioners, it can be incredibly challenging to focus on many different aspects of a pose at the same time. Often, it’s wise to “pick our battles” and focus on one aspect of a posture at a time. 

Spinal rotation is a powerful action that shows up in many different yoga poses. Mastering spinal rotation is challenging enough in its own right. But when paired with balance in postures like Half Moon, it makes it all the more difficult. 

By utilizing props like a wall, chair, and block, you can remove most of the balance element in Half Moon so that you can actively focus on spinal rotation. This can greatly inform your practice and translate to many other postures that you likely practice regularly. 

So, try practicing this variation of Half Moon Pose—it may very well surprise you.

Leah Sugerman, E-RYT 500, YACEP, yoga writer

Leah Sugerman is a yoga teacher, writer, and passionate world traveler. An eternally grateful student, she has trained in countless schools and traditions of the practice. She teaches a fusion of the styles she has studied with a strong emphasis on breath, alignment, and anatomical integrity. Leah teaches workshops, retreats, and trainings, both internationally and online. For more information, visit www.leahsugerman.com.

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