How to Do Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana) in Yoga

Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

Half Moon Yoga Pose - Ardha Chandrasana
Ben Goldstein

Targets: Balance, core, hamstrings

Level: Intermediate

The half moon yoga pose (Ardha Chandrasana) is a standing, balancing pose that's particularly challenging. It's an intermediate pose, so be sure you know your yoga fundamentals and are able to do Triangle Pose before you attempt Half Moon. In a flow sequence, you would go from Triangle to Half Moon to Downward Facing Dog.

Benefits

This move strengthens the ankles and thighs, stretches the hamstrings. It improves your balance and core strength. If you are a runner, tight hamstrings are often a problem and yoga poses such as Half Moon can be beneficial. Most sports and daily activities benefit by better balance and a strong core, especially as you age.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Begin in Triangle Pose (trikonasana) with the right leg forward. Bend your right knee softly and bring your left hand to your hip.
  2. Bring your right hand to the floor in front of your right foot. Your hand should be under your shoulder when you are in the full pose, so in order to set it up in the correct position, place it about a foot in front of and 5 or 6 inches to the right of your right foot. Tent your hand so that just your fingertips on the floor.
  3. Begin to straighten your right leg while simultaneously lifting your left foot off the floor. Keep your left leg as straight as possible. 
  4. Open your hips, stacking the left hip point on top of the right hip point. 
  5. Bring your left leg straight and parallel to the floor. Flex your left foot strongly with the toes pointing toward the left side of the room.
  6. When you feel balanced on the right leg, reach the left arm up toward the ceiling, opening the chest and making a straight line with the right and left arms perpendicular to the floor.
  7. Finally, turn your head so that your gaze is lifted toward your upraised left fingertips.
  1. The balance here for around five breaths before releasing the left leg to the floor and repeating the pose on the other side.

Common Mistakes

Avoid having your chest rotate toward the floor. A common cause of this is straining to reach the floor with your hand. Placing a block under the right hand can give you the extra elevation that allows the chest to open toward the ceiling more effectively.

Modifications and Variations

Need a Modification?

It's OK if you take several steps in with your left foot before lifting it up instead of one big step as described in step 3 above.

If balancing on one leg is a challenge for you, do the pose near a wall and bring your left foot to the wall when you raise the left leg. This is also a good way to practice getting the left leg parallel to the floor.

Up for a Challenge?

  1. Start to take the weight out of your right hand until just the tip of your middle finger is touching the floor. You can even hover the right hand a few inches off of the floor. If you do this, make sure to keep your alignment solid in the rest of your pose.
  2. Bend your left leg. Reach back and clasp your ankle with your left hand for sugarcane pose.

Safety and Precautions

Avoid this pose if you have an injury to your legs, hips, shoulders, or back.

Try It Out

Incorporate this move and similar ones into one of these popular workouts:

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