Named after the moon, the standing balance Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose) invites you to tap into both the calm, balancing the energy of the moon and the fiery force of the sun. In this pose, you discover how the coming together of two opposing energies generates a power that is greater than its separate parts.
In Half Moon Pose, two opposing movements are happening at once: You are rooting down into the earth with your standing leg while simultaneously lifting and extending your raised leg into space. The meeting of these two forces—rooting down and extending out—gives you the power to balance and suspend your spine and torso in midair. The pose teaches coordination and can help you understand the interdependence of the actions in your body. It can train you to stay focused and balanced during challenging moments of transition in asana practice.
Half Moon Pose can also help you develop strong legs and open hips. Many people have one leg that's dominant and one that's weaker, which can lead to postural imbalances. By learning to stand on one leg at a time in Half Moon Pose, you begin to strengthen both legs evenly. The standing leg is strengthened as it bears the weight of the body, with the outer thigh muscles engaging strongly. Meanwhile, the raised leg must work to stay suspended and parallel to the floor, requiring you to engage and lift from the inner thigh muscles and extend through the heel.
The soothing energy of the moon is as necessary for our lives as the sun's heat and light. When you need drive and determination, you tap into solar energy. At other times, calming lunar energy is a more balanced response to circumstances. The practice is learning when to employ each: when to cool down ambition, and when to turn up the heat.