How to Do Sugarcane Pose (Ardha Chandra Chapasana) in Yoga

Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

Woman on yoga mat doing sugarcane pose

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Also Known As: Candy Cane Pose, Half Moon Bow Pose

Targets: Quadriceps stretch, balancing, backbending

Level: Intermediate

Sugarcane Pose (Ardha Chandra Chapasana) is a variation of Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana). As a standing balance, Half Moon already has a lot going on. But if you're ready for more, try adding in the intense quad stretch and backbend, all while keeping your balance. The addition of chapasana most likely comes from chapa, which means arc or bow, referring to the shape of the upper body and lifted leg as your spine comes into extension. This pose might be used in a sequence for leg strength, balance, or stretching the quadriceps.

Benefits

Sugarcane Pose improves core strength and balance and stretches the quadriceps and hamstrings. You will be improving your leg strength as well as opening your hips and chest. Adding new elements completely changes a pose that you may have been practicing for years, taking you out of your comfort zone, forcing you to readjust your balance and your perspective.​ Stronger legs and a better sense of balance will help you maintain mobility and safety in daily life.

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Watch Now: Challenge Your Core With Sugarcane Pose

Step-by-Step Instructions

You can practice this pose anywhere you can stretch out at arms length.

  1. Begin in Half Moon Pose, standing on your right leg with the left leg parallel to the floor and the left arm lifted straight up.
  2. Bend your left knee and release your left arm down to catch hold of the top of your left foot behind your back with your left hand.
  3. Keep your left thigh roughly parallel to the floor. It's OK if the thigh rises a bit, but raising the leg is not the primary goal of the pose.
  4. Draw your left foot toward your body with the left hand, but at the same time press into your hand with your foot. This push-pull action creates a bow shape in the spine, turning the pose into a backbend.
  5. Hold for one to five breaths before releasing the left foot back into Half Moon position.
  6. Return the left foot to the floor and try the other side.

Common Mistakes

Avoid these errors to get the most out of this pose and prevent injury.

Not Opening Chest

The most important part of this pose is to keep your chest open toward the ceiling just like it is in Half Moon. If you can grab your left foot but it causes your chest to rotate toward the floor, you've lost the basis of the posture and will likely be unable to explore the backbend.

Knee Position

Don't lock or hyperextend the knee of the standing leg. Keep it just a little soft without bending the knee.

Modifications and Variations

This pose can be done in different ways to help you achieve it and to progress in your practice.

Need a Modification?

A block under the right hand can help you get the lift you need to keep your chest open as you explore this posture, even if you don't usually use one for Half Moon Pose.

If you are having trouble keeping your balance as you get into the pose, bend the leg you're standing on slightly while transitioning and then re-straighten that leg once you have hold of your left foot.

If you find yourself losing balance, keep your gaze down. You may want to practice it next to a wall in case you need support.

Up for a Challenge?

To work your core even more, start to take to weight out of your right hand. Slowly lift that hand off the floor so that you are balancing just on one leg.

From there, you can start to transition from Sugarcane to King Dancer Pose by slowly coming up to a standing position, keeping hold of your left foot the whole time.

Safety and Precautions

Avoid this pose if you have any injury to your ankle, knee, hip, or lower back. As a balancing pose, it may not be appropriate during pregnancy.

Try It Out

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

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Article Sources

  1. Woodyard C. Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase quality of lifeInt J Yoga. 2011;4(2):49–54. doi:10.4103/0973-6131.85485