Ardha Chandrasana or half moon balancing pose
A beautiful pose where we balance primarily on one leg. To help cultivate the inner focus and bring good alignment to the posture for the free balance, we start facing a wall.
Stage 1 Ardha Chandrasana using the wall for alignment
From a Trikonasana with the left toes touching the wall. (see Image 1a)
Bend right knee and place the left fingers to the wall as a support and as a guide to maintaining the chest parallel to the wall. Now draw left foot in and as you take the right hand out 30-40cm either slightly behind, or in line with the trunk.
Exhale and straighten left leg and right leg simultaneously. Bring the left leg in line with the trunk and point left toes forwards to touch the wall. (see Image 1b)
Draw the right inner thigh closer to the wall to better engage the femur head in to its socket.
Turn head upwards and gaze at left thumb, lighten the support from the wall and maintain the pose breathing normally for 5 cycles of breath to start with, building up to 10+.
Stage 2 Balancing in Ardha Chandrasana
Without the wall, once right hand is placed on the floor or to a brick, place the left hand on the hip. Extend into both heels before straightening the legs.
It may help with balance to further lift the left leg slightly higher than the trunk.
Stay steady with smooth breaths (aim for 5 and build up) as you hold the pose.
Stage 3 Balancing and alignment of arms
Stage 3 - progression to free balancing pose and raise the top arm to vertical.
Now also turn the head upwards as you did in Stage 1, if you can, and stay.
Why practice Ardha Chandrasana?
It requires much focus to remain ‘grounded’ or stable within the openness and lightness of this balancing pose with the challenges of being more in the element of air (vayu in Sanskrit).
Aligning your body carefully helps align the mind.
Ardha Chandrasana, in addition the physical benefits of the first three poses in this series, improves circulation to the head and neck, in particular the hypothalamus and endocrine glands, it may even help you sleep better.
Any questions you may have in practising this please do ask to your teacher.