Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana)

How to do Half Moon Pose

Written by:

Logan Hailey

Edited & fact checked by:

Jagpreet Kaur

Published Date:

Estimated reading time:

Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana)

Key Takeaway

Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana) enhances leg strength, core stability, and balance, while promoting mental clarity and spinal health, making it a valuable addition to any yoga practice.

HALF MOON POSE
Alternate name:Ardha Chandrasana
Difficulty level:Intermediate
Pose category:Balancing
Muscle groups:Gluteal muscles (hips)
Quadriceps (thighs)
Hamstrings (thighs)
Adductors (inner thighs)
Abductors (outer thighs)
Calves (lower legs)
Obliques (abdomen)
Rectus abdominis (abdomen)
Erector spinae (spine)
Pelvic floor muscles (pelvis)
Deltoids (shoulders)
Trapezius (upper back)
Serratus anterior (ribcage/upper back)
Forearm extensors (forearms)
Physical benefits:Strengthens legs and core; improves balance and stability.
Therapeutic applications:Back pain, Mental health
Preparatory poses:Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III)
Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)
Extended Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana)
Counterposes that follow well:Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
Extended Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana)
Wide Legged Forward Fold (Prasarita Padottanasana)
Chakras activated:Sacral Chakra (Svadhishthana)
Most helpful prop:Manduka Yoga Cork Block - Yoga Prop and Accessory, Good for Travel, Comfortable Edges, Lightweight,...
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Ardha Chandrasana, or Half Moon Pose, is an intermediate balancing pose that creates a graceful side-facing arc like the half moon. This traditional Hatha yoga posture symbolizes reflection, receptivity, and the integration of masculine and feminine energies.

As you balance your torso and legs in a lateral stance, Half Moon Pose builds tremendous strength and muscle tone in your legs and core. This pose channels the lunar energy of the moon by cooling and balancing the body’s energetic field to help you find internal stability and calmness.

Here is everything you need to know about the elegant Half Moon Pose.

Prefer video? Here’s our complete one on how to perform Half Moon:

Pose Benefits

Whether integrated into a Sun or Moon Salutation, or practiced in a Warrior Sequence, Ardha Chandrasana awakens the entire body. Half Moon Pose can improve your:

  • Leg strength: Your glutes, quads, and calves work hard in this pose. It is normal to shake or wobble as you find your strength in Half Moon. This pose can quickly burn fat and build lean muscle in the legs.
  • Balance: Similar to Warrior III (Balancing Stick Pose), Half Moon Pose requires holding your torso completely perpendicular to your standing leg. This builds extreme balance that can set you.
  • Core stability: If you want to build up your yogi abs and reduce back pain at the same time, this pose is perfect for targeting the obliques. The more you engage your core, the easier it gets to stabilize your torso.
  • Mental health: Any balancing pose requires tremendous focus, clarity, and concentration. Half Moon helps to balance our emotions and find quietness in the mind. The muscular challenges of this pose are energizing and promote a stress-free, relaxed vibe throughout the body.
  • Intimate health: Half Moon Pose activates the pelvic floor to improve urinary and intimate health for both men and women. It is particularly useful for women.
  • Posture and spinal health: This pose naturally elongates the back and builds the muscles along the spine. Regularly practicing Half Moon can help counteract the negative effects of sitting at a desk all day.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Half Moon Pose is a challenging pose because it brings the body into an asymmetrical position that requires rotating to one side and balancing in a single plane. It’s natural for this pose to be more difficult on one side than the other.

Hatha philosophy reminds us to remain detached from the “perfect” side and pay closer attention to the side that is weaker or less flexible. In life, many of us tend to stick to what is easiest or most familiar, and run away from the issues that are harder to resolve. Notice this tendency in this posture and lean into the discomfort of challenging your “weaker” leg.

Warrior 3 to half moon
  1. First, enter Warrior III pose. Start standing in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) with feet hip-width distance. Inhale your arms up to the sides of your ears. Take a step forward with your right leg and shift all your weight into that standing leg.
  2. On the next inhale, lengthen your spine and reach up toward the ceiling. Exhale and engage your core as you slowly lower your torso down so it is parallel to the floor. Keep the standing leg straight and be careful not to “lock out” the standing knee. Maintain a micro-bend in the joint.
  3. Find your balance here as you raise your left leg parallel to your torso and create a perfect “T” shape. Then, bring your arms straight out to your sides for “airplane arms.”
  4. On the next inhale, begin your rotation into Half Moon Pose. Slowly lift your left arm straight to the sky and reach your right arm to the floor. You can touch your fingertips to a block or the floor, depending on your flexibility and core strength. The palm of the upper left hand will open to the side.
  5. As your torso rotates to face the long edge of your mat. your left hip joint should simultaneously open to the side. Continue to rotate until you have your hips stacked on top of each other and and your left shoulder directly over your right.
  6. Keep the left foot active and toes pointing forward in the same direction as your face.
  7. Press into the floor, squeeze your leg muscles, and further engage your core to stabilize. Find your breath and continue to raise the lifted leg until it is parallel with the floor. Your gaze, face, chest, stomach, and hips should all be facing the same direction.
  8. Hold for 3 to 5 breaths, maintaining a long, strong spine. Your body should be in one linear plane as if you could practice Half Moon Pose between two close walls.
  9. To exit, rotate back to center with airplane arms. On an exhale, step your left leg down to meet the right leg.
  10. Rest for a moment and then repeat on the other side with your left foot forward.
half moon 2

Tips for Mastering the Pose

Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana) is undoubtedly a huge challenge for yogis at any level. These time-tested tips will help you find your strength and stability as you open into Half Moon.

Tip #1: Keep your chest open

You should not be slumping forward to reach the ground during Half Moon Pose. Instead, keep your shoulders rolled back as if they are kissing each other. Maintain an expansive heart that opens to the side with your arms.

Tip #2: Keep your hips “stacked” on top of each other

The hip orientation in Half Moon Pose is key for maintaining balance and building those yogi abs. Your upper hip joint should be stacked right on top of the lower hip. This ensures that your hips are opening to the same side and facing the same direction.

Tip #3: Keep your hands and feet active

Imagine someone is pulling your head and your foot in opposite directions. At the same time, imagine your fingertips reaching away from each other. As your feet and hands stay completely flexed and active, the resistance between them actually creates more balance.

This is a lesser-known secret to any balance pose, but it is especially important in Half Moon. You should also remember to keep the lifted foot flexed and toes pointing toward the side.

Tip #4: Imagine your belly button reaching toward your spine

Keep the core engaged by drawing your navel in toward your spine. This will naturally flex your abs and create more stability.

Tip #5: Imagine practicing Half Moon between two walls

half moon between walls

Similar to Warrior II, this posture is practiced in a single plane. In other words, the whole body should be aligned so that you could squeeze two walls on either side of you and stay linear between them.

Common Mistakes

Rushing into Half Moon Pose can result in some uncomfortable, awkward, and even dangerous misalignments. Correct your form with these quick fixes:

Common Mistake #1: Twisting upper shoulder forward

Many beginners find their upper shoulder falling down as they reach toward the ground. This knocks your torso out of alignment and can cause an uncomfortable twist in the spine.

How to Fix It: Roll your shoulder blades back and down so that your chest is open to the side. Keep the upper arm active and palm facing forward.

Common Mistake #2: Unaligned or “unstacked” hips

Half Moon Pose is a side-opened version of balancing stick. If your hips remain facing toward the floor, your spine will be misaligned and it will be very difficult to find your balance. Notice if your hip joints feel misaligned or awkward. This is a sign that you aren’t rotating enough to “stack” them on top of each other.

How to Fix It: Bring your hands to your hips and roll the upper hip back and up so that it is perfectly stacked above your standing hip joint. Imagine two walls on each side of you and your body aligning in a single linear plane. The upper hip bone should face the side.

You can also enter Half Moon Pose from Warrior II to help keep the hips squared to the long-edge of the mat.

Common Mistake #3: Slouching toward the ground

If your core is not actively holding your torso upright, you’re probably slumping down toward the ground. Contrary to popular belief, Half Moon Pose does not require reaching the floor with your lower hand. It is far better to keep the abs engaged and torso lifted.

How to Fix It: Use a block! There is no need to over-reach toward the floor. Instead, place a block longways beneath your lower hand and use it is a grounding point. Optionally, simply balance on the block with your fingertips.

Common Mistake #4: Rounded back

If your back is rounding, Half Moon Pose can be painful and unenjoyable. The back needs to be straight and strong to properly support your balance on the standing leg.

How to Fix It: First, fix your shoulder and add a block beneath your lower arm. Imagine a straight line beaming from the heel of your lifted leg through your spine and out of the top of your head. Suck the navel in toward the spine and kick out through your foot. Your spine should be as straight as possible.

Variations

Half Moon Pose has a variety of beginner-friendly and advanced variations.

Beginner Friendly: Knee on the floor Half Moon Pose

knee on floor half moon

If Half Moon seems completely out of reach for you at this point in your practice, there is no shame in coming down on one knee. This variation allows you to master the hip stacking and side-opening alignment to prepare for the full expression.

  1. Start on all fours in a Tabletop Position.
  2. Lift the right leg straight behind you and root through your left arm and hand into the floor.
  3. Press the knee and shin of the left leg into the mat as you rotate your hips open to the side. Reach your right hand up toward the ceiling.

Here’s a full video we did to help you practice this preparatory pose:

Beginner Friendly: Half Moon Pose with a Block

A block is the easiest way to modify Half Moon Pose for beginners. Place a block under the lower fingertips for balance and grounding. This can help prevent slumping or falling forward.

Advanced Variation: Sugarcane Pose (Ardha Chandrasana Chapasana)

Also known as Half Moon Bow Pose or Candy Cane Pose, this posture adds a little backbend into your Half Moon.

  1. Create a stable base on your standing leg and ensure you can confidently hold Half Moon Pose for 3-5 breaths.
  2. If standing on your right leg, bend your upper knee and reach back to hold the top of the left foot.
  3. Kick your left foot into your left hand as you raise your thigh up.
  4. Don’t force the back arch. Instead, focus on the “bow shape” created by kicking backwards and simultaneously reaching forward.
  5. Hold for 3-5 breaths and repeat on the other leg.

Safety and Precautions

Half Moon is an intermediate pose that is best practiced with an accredited yoga instructor. If you feel unsure of your balance, use a wall or a block before diving into the full pose.

Avoid practicing Half Moon if you have a hip injury. Students with arm, hamstring, ankle, foot, spine injuries, or a shoulder injury should also avoid this pose.

Teaching the Pose

When teaching Half Moon Pose, use these cues to help students find their lunar balance more quickly:

  • Create resistance by reaching your hand up as your head reaches forward and your heel kicks back.
  • Imagine your shoulders kissing behind you so your chest stays lifted.
  • Engage the obliques (side abs) to maintain stability. Imagine your core drawing in and back toward the spine.
  • Avoid locking your standing knee. Maintain a micro bend.
  • Focus on bringing your raised leg straight in line with your hip.
  • Transition from Warrior II, Extended Triangle Pose, or Warrior III to ensure proper hip alignment.
  • Root through your standing foot before advancing in the posture. Imagine all four corners of the foot gripping the floor and lifting your arch.

Preparatory Poses

Stretch and warm your muscles before Half Moon Pose using these asanas:

Counter Poses

Follow up your Half Moon Pose with one or all of these postures:

  • Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
  • Extended Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana)
  • Wide Legged Forward Fold (Prasarita Padottanasana)

Conclusion

It can take a lot of focus and practice to reach the full expression of Half Moon Pose. We recommend starting from the floor and then moving to a block before trying the full expression. Always build this pose from the ground up to ensure proper alignment. Don’t be afraid to use a block or wall if needed. You will create a gorgeous lunar shape in no time!

Namaste! 

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