Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon) was the first pose that showed me how to be a spiritual practitioner. Similar to how the warriors allow us to feel prepared and ready, Half Moon opened me up to my potential in a new way.
It was, and still is, a gift. I remember the initial feeling of finding a shape that spoke to me, embodied me, and so I embodied and embraced it back. And it gave me what a good partner does: support and an abiding faith.
Ardha C., I’ll call her, came to me somewhat more easily than other balance poses. I am very left side dominant, but not as much in Half Moon as in other poses (perhaps because two limbs have ground, and perhaps because of pelvic shift—the pelvic bowl is on its side—the contents are not sitting, but moving. But its main appeal is the shape. It leans in. Here’s what it says:
Be here. On one leg and one hand, and cast your gaze up high. Lift yourself up and towards nothing. Lengthen, stretch your soul in every direction. Pray right, here.
Prayer like a electrical current as you stretch through the entire body in four directions. Prayer as a playful constellation, as in a Kandinsky painting that follows its own kinetic logic.
Leaning Into Ardha C: Warrior Two offers a stronger base than triangle when moving into Half Moon. I like to move from Warrior Two to Triangle , back to Warrior Two, grounding more the second time. Then I follow the traditional instructions of reaching forward with the front hand and sweeping the back foot along the floor, preparing for lift off, with one exception: Once the back leg is parallel with the floor, I bend the lifted knee and re-extend it, finding more length and rootedness in the grounded foot and leg.
So there I am, reaching and balancing in all directions, and perhaps this is the joyful purpose of Ardha C: the reach, the stretch toward everything. It has a multi-tasking quality to it that feels uniquely female. Imagine, too, the circle around the shape as the limbs radiate to its circumference. There’s nowhere to go but deeper, higher, into the reach, expanding your circle…
And the variations are so elegant. Chapasana—the Half Moon backbend— with the lifted leg bent and held open at the foot, saying: I am testing myself further; I am economizing even more, as I draw more deeply into my core, hugging my shoulder blades toward my spine, lifting my heart higher. The bent knee—a sign of our physical, our practical humility, as we offer ourselves up.
Another variation: balancing on the standing leg while raising the “earth hand” up, letting it hover, and then moving it toward the heart. Half Prayer? No, full and humble is the half moon prayer; so much beauty in one hand on the heart: This is all I can offer now—one hand, with my full heart.
Then there’s revolved and bound half moon. These are different poses, with different resonations, elegant and complex, so if you are just starting off or you want to deepen your “fullmoonness,” take some time to move between revolved and half moon slowly, with both knees bent, feeling the lifted hip closing and opening: Revolve, “halfen,” do it again, and then once more for good measure, then bend the front knee and step back strong to Warrior Two. You are a warrior reaching for the moon.
Kathleen Kraft is a poet and yoga teacher. She was born and raised in New York City and made the move across the Hudson several years ago to Jersey City. She has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize, and her chapbook Fairview Road is forthcoming in December from Finishing Line Press.