Ardha Chandrasana, or Half Moon, is a beautiful balancing pose that is both strengthening and stretching. Ardha translates as half, and chandra translates as glittering and having the brilliancy or hue of light. Yogic legend teaches us that Ganesh once hurled his right tusk at the moon in rage, which temporarily took away Chandra’s shine. Ganesh repented and decided to let the moon shine again, but only for a limited time each month. This is why the moon waxes and wanes.
To come into Ardha Chandrasana, begin in Triangle, or Trikonasana, on the right side, with the left hand on the left hip and the right hand on a block. Inhale, bend the right knee, and reach the right hand forward while still grasping the block, about 12 inches in front of the little-toe side of the right foot. Exhale, press right hand and right heel firmly into the floor, and straighten the right leg, simultaneously lifting the left leg parallel to the floor. Flex through the left heel as if you are pressing the foot against the wall behind you. Be careful not to lock the standing knee: make sure the kneecap is aligned straight forward and isn’t turned inward. Rotate your upper torso to the left, but keep the left hip moving slightly forward. If you would like you may lift the left hand up to the sky.
Because this posture is named for a specific time in the lunar cycle, it is a wonderful practice to create the Ardha Chandrasana shape when there is a half moon shining high in the sky. Imagine moonlight beaming through your entire body, out through your extended limbs and into whatever space you are practicing in. Our asana practice encourages us to use our imaginations and remember that we are as much a part of the amazing natural world as a breathtaking half moon on a clear winter’s night.