Yoga How-To: The Half-Moon Pose

Medically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on August 22, 2022
4 min read

You don’t have to know the phases of the moon to do this pose. 

The half-moon pose is an asymmetric balancing pose. It focuses on improving hip strength and your body’s stability from head to toe.

Ardha chandrasana is the Sanskrit phrase for half-moon. You can include the ardha chandrasana pose in any yoga sequence focused on balance and total body engagement.

Difficulty level. The half-moon pose is moderately difficult if you aren’t familiar with the basics of yoga. It’s an energetic pose that engages your whole body, so beginners find it difficult without yoga props to make the pose easier.

Equipment needed. You’ll need basic yoga supplies like comfortable clothing and a yoga mat. If you’re new to the half-moon pose, you may need a yoga block to help maintain your form.

Since the half-moon pose engages your whole body, it works a range of muscles from head to toe.

Abductor muscles. The most active group of muscles is the abductor muscles in your hips and shoulders. These muscles allow you to move your limbs away from connecting parts of your body, facilitating movements such as:

  • Raising your arms out to the sides
  • Spreading your fingers or toes
  • Moving your leg to the side 

The half-moon pose opens up your hips and shoulders, engaging the muscles that allow those limbs to abduct. Since the half-moon pose is asymmetric, it’s essential to hold the pose on both sides of your body to engage all the muscles.

Leg muscles. Part of the pose involves balancing on one leg and holding the other parallel to the floor. This position engages all of your leg muscles, particularly your glutes, quads, and hamstrings. 

The half-moon pose thus strengthens your leg muscles. It also improves your mobility and flexibility in your legs.

Core muscles. Like with many yoga poses, the half-moon pose activates your core. Your core muscles include those in your lower back, abdomen, and hips. 

Your core muscles play a role in almost everything you do. They help you exercise, do chores, sit at your desk, and more.

The half-moon pose targets your legs, but your core helps hold the form. You can only maintain a straight back and open chest with the help of your core muscles.

  1. Stand with your feet a bit less than shoulder-width apart.
  2. Rotate your right foot out 90 degrees and shift your weight onto your right leg. 
  3. Look to your right, slowly bend at the waist, and reach down toward the floor or a yoga block with your right arm.
  4. At the same time, slowly raise your left leg into the air to be parallel to the floor. 
  5. Keep your back straight and long as if a thread runs from your head down through your left leg.
  6. Open your chest and slowly raise your left arm into the air so that your arms form a straight line. 
  7. You can look up or down, depending on what’s comfortable for you. 
  8. Inhale and stretch your body and limbs away from your stomach.
  9. Exhale and let your body settle toward your waist and your center of balance.
  10. Hold for as long as you can and repeat by balancing on the other leg. 

Whether you’re new to the pose or have an injury that makes it more difficult, these variations might make it a bit easier.

Use yoga blocks. Yoga blocks bring the floor to you. If you have difficulty reaching the floor during the pose, put a block on it and reach for the block instead. 

Use the wall. You can use the wall in a couple of ways to make the pose easier. First, stand parallel to the wall and use the solid surface to guide how straight you hold your body. 

Alternatively, you can stand with your raised foot against the wall. This variation still emphasizes the balance training of the pose.

Health benefits. Yoga has excellent benefits for many people. The half-moon pose can provide these extra benefits:

  • Improved balance and stability
  • Pain relief in your hips and back
  • Stress relief
  • Improved digestive health
  • Relief from menstrual symptoms

Pose benefits. Since the half-moon pose is moderately difficult, it can be a significant upgrade if you’re experienced with beginner balancing poses. 

It’s also a good pose to know since it’s easily varied to fit your capabilities and skillset. 

Who can benefit from the half-moon pose? A few types of people can benefit from the half-moon pose. Consider practicing this pose if you have mild to moderate back, hip, or menstruation pain.

Even though yoga is an effective form of exercise, it’s not without its dangers. Moderately difficult poses like the half-moon pose can produce injuries if you aren’t careful.

Go slow. When practicing yoga, move slowly and deliberately. Quick or jerky motions can easily lead to an injury. 

Moving slowly also applies to changing difficulties. Don’t move up to more complex moves like the half-moon pose until you’re ready.

Use props. Yoga blocks and straps are widely used for a reason. Use yoga props to ease the stress of certain poses and movements. 

Plan a safe space. The half-moon pose requires balance, so you’ll probably fall over a few times when learning the pose. Make sure the room around you is clear so you won’t hurt yourself if you fall. 

Listen to your body. Yoga naturally imposes some discomfort on your body as it activates your muscles. If a pose or movement doesn’t feel right, stop. 

Pushing yourself can easily lead to injury and make it more difficult to hold other poses. Finishing a pose isn’t worth hurting yourself.

Yoga is an incredible form of exercise. One of the greatest perks is that you can modify the yoga sequences to fit your needs.

The half-moon pose is an effective pose to improve your balance and strengthen your abduction muscles. The flexibility required can make it a great challenge in your favorite yoga sequence.