Asta Chandrasana, also known as High Lunge or Crescent Moon Lunge, is a wonderful preparatory pose for other standing postures. The moon has a rich symbolic significance in yogic mythology: in the Hatha Yoga tradition the sun and the moon represent the two polar energies of the human body. In fact, the word Hatha itself is often divided into its two constituent syllables, “ha” and “tha”, which signify the solar and lunar energies respectively.
To come into high lunge, begin in Tadasana. Step the left foot behind you about 3-4 feet, coming onto the ball of the foot with the back heel reaching up towards the ceiling. Track the right knee over or slightly behind the right ankle. If the knee juts in front of the ankle it diverts energy from the gluteals to the knee joint of your bent leg, and can create pressure. Keep a slight bend in the left knee so as to encourage the shoulders to stay over the hips. Find a slight tuck of the tailbone in order to engage the belly. You can do this in an exaggerated way at first, really tilting the pelvis forward and bending the back knee, and then finding more neutrality in the spine and straightening the back leg once you have found the alignment. Lift the arms and face the palms inward with the outer edges of the pinkies facing towards each other. The spine stays long: imagine the tailbone reaching down towards the mat while the crown of the head shines upward. Notice how lengthening the spine invites space across the chest, and find some space as well between the shoulders and the ears. If you have trouble finding stability in this posture, walk the right foot out slightly in order to widen your foundation.
Be careful not to over-arch the lower back or press the front ribs forward. Draw them down and into the torso. If you like, you can begin moving into a slight backbend by keeping the bend primarily in the middle and upper back, broadening and lifting the chest, and then letting the head and arms follow the movement backward. Maintain length in the back of the neck, and avoid tossing the head back. To safely come out of this variation, allow the shoulder blades to separate and lead with shoulders, not chest, mindful to keep core engaged by lifting the pelvic floor.