In the practice of yoga there are some poses where there is a half of something version which engages one side of the body and then a version to fully engage both sides of the body at the same time. Half moon pose is not one of those poses. There is no full moon pose but don’t worry half moon is more than enough.
In Sanskrit, ardha chandrasana (are-dah chan-DRAHS-anna) is the name of the pose. Ardha means half and chandra means glittering or shining and having the brilliance or hue of light; usually translated as the light of the moon. Radiant. Like many yoga poses the shape of the pose is less about looking like its name and more about the feeling as you move into and out of the pose.
What feelings come up when you are in half moon?
What would it feel like to be the moon?
What does radiance feel like?
One of my most favorite books, Pathways to Possibilities, by a brilliant writer and thinker Rosamund Stone Zander, has a series of infinite games. Thinking about this question made me remember one of her games where you pick a quality to use as your guiding principle for every decision for one to three days.
Zander offers this list in her book.
As I thought about half moon pose I decided on the word Radiance for this game. The idea is that at every decision point of your day ask yourself some form of this question “What is the radiant choice?” For me radiant means knowing deeply the beauty and shining light, shimmering qualities of life, of my life, and courageously sharing all of that with others.
She also suggests putting the word on your body. When she did it she wrote the word COURAGE on a piece of paper when she headed off on a solo ski weekend. I won’t be a spoiler but this word landed her in a place with people that she never imagined possible. (It was not the emergency room!) I took the suggestion literally and made myself a sharpie tattoo with a half moon and the word radiance. I’ve done this game before and found it to be a powerful experience.
Half moon pose is a curious pose, like the moon. From our humble place here on earth, the moon looks to be effortlessly floating in the sky. Science calls the moon an orbiting body because it is in constant movement with many forces working to suspend it and simultaneously keep it moving in its orbit.
In half moon, there is a sense of suspension as you ground and connect the standing leg to the earth and then radiate out from your solar plexus center. The more you press into the earth, the more you can reach the lifted leg. The more you reach down with the bottom hand, the more you can reach with the top hand. It’s our humble earth-bond body’s version of suspension.
It’s another form of an infinite game where you can play with, test and cultivate your strength and balance through your entire body. There is one other important thing to note about half moon. Like the real moon, it rises and sets. Half moon is not a pose you hop into. The moon has a cycle of rising and setting. It takes patience and preparation, intentional positioning and then a big dose of trust.
Adriene does a great job of getting into this pose from triangle pose, and I have also been led by other practices into this pose from extended side angle pose. Follow along with Adriene for the basics of half moon and here she offers a longer 29-minute half moon practice. I also love doing this pose against a wall. It makes the balance much easier and it gives me the chance to feel the full expression of radiance in my body.
There is one more thing about this pose. Don’t give up. Well, maybe two things. Don’t get too serious. Play. You have that brilliant radiant moon right inside of you already. It is waiting for your invitation to rise and shine.
Photo by Jordan Steranka on Unsplash