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Half Moon Pose (ardha chandrasana)

Standing balancing posture that stretches your body in several directions.
 

Half Moon Pose (or ardha chandrasana) is an advanced standing balancing pose that stretches your body in several directions at once - out through your legs, the crown of your head and your arms. This pose can strengthen your legs and buttocks, as well as increase the flexibility of your legs and hips. Regular practice of Half Moon Pose can also improve your balance and coordination.
 
To help maintain your balance in this pose, rest your weight on your supporting foot as you press it into the floor and extend your raised leg away from you with each exhalation. Concentrating on breathing evenly can also help you maintain your balance.
 
It is important to align your body correctly in this pose. As you perform the pose, keep your spine in a straight line and your head, shoulders and hips on the same plane.
 
If you feel any tension in your neck, do not turn your head up to look at your raised hand. Avoid Half Moon Pose if you are tired or have high blood pressure.
 
Steps:
Begin in Mountain Pose.
Exhale as you bend forward from your hips, keeping your heels on the floor.
Place your palms on the floor in front of your feet. Your palms should be shoulder width apart.
(If you cannot place your palms on the floor, place your palms on blocks.)
Shift your weight onto your left leg.
Exhale as you gradually lift and lengthen your right leg out behind you.
Exhale as you press your left heel into the floor and then lift your right palm off the floor as you turn your upper body to the right.
Inhale as you stretch your right arm up toward the ceiling, keeping your right shoulder back.
Continue to lift and lengthen your right leg until it is parallel to the floor.
Turn your head to gaze at your right hand, keeping your spine straight and your neck relaxed.
Hold the pose for 15 to 25 seconds.
To come out of the pose, exhale as you lower your right leg to the floor and lift your left palm off the floor. Then return to Mountain Pose.
Repeat steps 2 to 11 for your other side.
 
I find it difficult to balance in Half Moon Pose. What can I do?
You can use a wall to help maintain your balance in this pose. Stand with your left side to the wall. Perform the steps above, keeping the back of your head, shoulder blades, buttocks, raised heel and the back of your raised hand touching the wall as you hold the pose. In addition to keeping you balanced, the wall can help you align your body correctly.
 
Should I tighten my muscles while holding Half Moon Pose?
No. Tightening your muscles in Half Moon Pose will only make you unstable in the pose. Make sure you do not tense any part of your body as you hold the pose. Instead, focus on expanding and lengthening your body with each breath. Visualize your chest expanding as your arms stretch outward and your body lengthening from the crown of your head through to your raised foot.
 
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