Sifting through pictures to write this column, I scope out new asana to explore each month. As I came across this photo of me in a Half Moon pose variation, my first thought (aside from how much I dig my rainbow pants, hehe) was that I couldn’t write about Half Moon again; I already had at one point.
Then I thought about how, really, our practice consists of returning to postures again and again (and again and again and again) to deepen our relationship with and understanding of them. The paradox is, however, that even when we revisit something (a pose, a person, a task to be taken care of) for the umpteenth time, it’s never really the “same ol’, same ol’.” It’s new in the moment we’re doing it… otherwise we could just do Side Plank once and check it off our list forever.
Instead, we practice things many a time in order to become more skilled. Realizing more depth of possibility (like closing our eyes in Tree pose, or even Handstand) is a fruit of growing in our skill. And so, in honor of our willingness to show up repeatedly as students of yoga and of life, we greet Half Moon again, to understand more deeply what’s there, and to see the possibility of newness.
Building upon your existing foundation of Half Moon, once you are solidly set up, turn your gaze down to your tented fingertips. Stay active in your bottom hand. Instead of pouring weight down and smushing your fingertips (so easy to do), draw your fingertips energetically toward each other like you were trying to pull very sticky taffy off the floor. This engages up the arm and into the core much more fully and efficiently, rather than “dumping” into standing leg, hip, and hand. This is one main step that will allow you to then float the hand above the floor.
Keep your standing foot’s big toe ball mound firmly rooted, press into the heel, and soften your toes. Unlock your standing knee.
Draw the outer hip of your standing leg back away from the armpit. This action should lengthen your side waist.
Slightly cinch your upper ribs in; not so much you harden your diaphragm and have restricted access to breath, just enough to engage frontal core.
Keep your top leg active, spreading toes, lifting slightly up through outer heel to engage your gluteus medius and not overuse maximus.
Be explorative in your arm variations. Once you feel as confident as you can with your bottom hand in mid-air, you could join your hands in prayer at your heart center, reach both arms overhead (Whoa, Nelly, get ready to feel a zing of core energy!), or reach bottom arm overhead and top arm backwards, as in the picture. That variation is a little more accessible than both arms overhead.
Look downward for stability; challenge yourself further by looking sideways or upwards. Do not look up with your head dropped toward your bottom shoulder; keep your neck even and long.
Breathe steadily and stay connected to an inward sense of trust, which enhances your external alignment awareness.
Courtesy of Bala Vinyasa Yoga.