Posture Clinic: Half Moon


by Barbora Simek

If the challenge of half-moon has ever left you asking ‘why the hell did am I putting myself through this?’ then OMB has your answers.

Half Moon (Ardha Chandrasana)

The goal of half-moon is to create lateral flexion (side bending) of the spine in a continuous arc that extends from the heels to the fingertips.

Benefits

  • Trims fat all over the body: thighs, hips, waist, buttocks, arms and abdomen.
  • Improves and strengthens every muscle in the central part of the body, especially the back and abdomen.
  • Increases flexibility of the spine
  • Helps pigeon chest
  • Helps release tension in the respiratory system
  • Corrects bad posture
  • Promotes proper kidney function
  • Helps cure enlargement of the liver and the spleen
  • Helps cure dyspepsia and constipation
  • Helps to alleviate lower back pain, bronchial distress, scoliotic deformities, tennis elbow, frozen shoulder
  • Realigns spine
  • Stretches the lymph glands and is good for lymphoma
  • Good for children to build will power and self-esteem

Energetic Benefits

Proper alignment of half-moon exercises and opens many of the chackras.

  • Aligning your hips opens the 1 (root), 2 (sexual) and 3rd (solar plexus) chackras. This breaks through issues of power, intimacy, sexuality, creativity and self-image.
  • Opening of the shoulders activates the 3 (solar plexus), 4th (heart) and 5th (throat) chackras. releasing of the shoulder area helps to balance the difference you feel between your inner and outer self : how you see yourself, and how you feel the world sees you
  • allows you to break free from taking yourself too seriously

Class Notes from the Pros

From Rajishree

  • You MUST use the hips. If you feel pain in the ribs or scapula, you are using your upper spine too much and not enough of your hips.

From Craig

According to Craig, the two biggest mistakes in Half-Moon are holding the body up to avoid the pain of stretching and flopping down using only flexibility. Here are his tips to avoid these mistakes and improve your pose:

  • Stretch up first as much as possible to open up the intervertebral disks [soft tissue between your vertebra]
  • Your hips should initiate the movement because they are both your centre of gravity and prana [energetic center]
  • Exhale as you stretch, gravity will help you. This applies to all poses that use gravity.
  • Think ‘stretch’ instead of ‘come down’ so that the static arc of the posture will hold you up
  • If you feel pain in your lower back, you have failed to stretch
  • Instead of focusing on bringing the palms together, focus on stretching and lengthening which will automatically force the elbows to straighten and the palms to touch

Tips for Teachers

  • Hold the first set at least 30 seconds, 1 minute is better. If the room is not hot enough, hold it approximately 1 minute – Craig
  • Pay close attention to the order of the dialogue. “The dialogue is a set of variables executed in a sequence, each one must exist in order to allow the next to happen.” – Craig
  • Say the dialogue once, make the students see themselves and repeat, repeat, repeat until they understand the pose - Bikram
  • The first dialogue of half-moon is important because it establishes your authority in the class, and sets the stage for the students to surrender to  the instructions. If you can make a beginner understand half-moon by second set, you can make them surrender. – Bikram
  • Half-Moon is a very diagnostic posture, use your knowledge of the form to diagnose and anatomical inconsistencies affecting your students – Craig
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7 Comments

Filed under Benefits, Posture Clinic, Posture Tips, Tips and Tricks

7 responses to “Posture Clinic: Half Moon

  1. Allyson Meacham

    As a teacher, how do you recommend getting more practiced students to avoid the tendency to take the instructions so literally that they actually are doing a back bend–hips in front of the upper body. Especially in a studio that recommends mostly straight dialog, relatively new teacher there. Thanks.

  2. Such a good question Allyson, thanks.

    I’ve been teaching for 4 years, and I have found I struggle with this sometimes too. Here are a few things I do:

    1) Send a specific student a correction. Like Craig recommends, start the correction with “For you only ______, the upper body is leaning too far back.”

    2) Remind the students that they should feel stretching fingers to toes. If you are out of alighnment in the pose the stretch will become concentrated in the hips or shoulders, put some more emphasis on “stretching equally the same.”

    3) Tell a student, I have a correction for your half-moon, remind me after class, and talk them through it afterward, or catch them when they are leaving students usually really appreciate it. I like to tell them to remind me because I usually forget.

    I agree with your studio that dialogue is paramount, especially when you are starting out. But sometimes we need to find ways to correct that are not verbatim, in the beginning this is done best by quilting together peices of dialogue from other poses.

    If you feel comfortable, bring up the question with your fellow teachers and studio owners. If that isn’t an option, email a senior teacher like Mary Jarvis on Facebook, she frequently provides valuable advice about the yoga, I have benefited from her sage many times.

    Hope that helps!!

    PS. Would you mind if I re-posted your question and got some other teachers to weigh in on your questions?

  3. Linda

    Dialogue is VERY specific….In BOLD print it says “ABSOLUTELY straight line, slowly bend your body…” if someone is “over correcting” just use dialogue- say, “Mary, too much leaning back, keep the straight line from the side”

  4. Andrew

    Out of curiosity (and as a daily practitioner of Bikram yoga), I was wondering how much compression there should be on the inside of the bend in the “saddle-bag” region. (i.e.-if bending to the right, just above your right hip). Currently, I do stretch up as much as possible before I go over, but even so, I get a lot of compression on the inside. Any info would be lovely.

    ~Andrew

  5. From my understanding Andrew, the compression is just a part of the benefit for the pose. So I think the issue is more just staying to the form, straight line from the side, stretching all over down the opposite side of the body, and to feel that stretch distributed as equally as possible.

    Anyone else?

  6. Thank you so much for these posture clinic posts. I have been practicing for about a year and have really felt my interest and desire peak in the last few months. These posture clinics post really help me think about what I can change and what my focus truly needs to be on.
    Again, thanks so much!

  7. Helen

    Hi there, I recently had the opportunity to have my half moon photographed at all stages then crtiqued by my teacher/studio owner. I have a very flexible spine and even though I was adjusting and stretching as instructed I had a marked back bend in my posture. When I was completely aligned and photographed again the posture was much harder and I could not go very deep in to it at all. My orginal posture looked like the one in the photo on this blog, and I notice your model’s hips are twisting out of alignment :) She is making a right angle and not a half moon.
    Namaste
    Helen

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