Week 1 – Meeting the Posture
Half Moon Pose or in Sanskrit: Ardha Chandrasana
As we continue our yoga journey together this month we will focus on half moon pose…. balance poses to me mean having fun with your practice…we will inevitably fall or wobble and being able to laugh at yourself and just come back to the pose is key…this is true both on and off the mat! And remember to listen to your body, you can practice modified versions of this on days you feel you need something different, switching things up also keeps things interesting and varies how you are using your body.
The goal you set this month is to have fun…to allow yourself to be silly and laugh, and maybe along the way you find some added stability in this pose. Take a day 1 photo so you can get a good look at where your body really is in this pose, we need that birds eye view to really see where we are in space and where we need to work on things to improve our alignment in the posture, my day one photo is above…. Commit to practicing this pose in some variation each day for the entire month, grab another photo maybe in the middle and again at the end to compare, you can share your photos or not, entirely up to you! You can also keep a journal with your practice and take a moment after each time you hit the mat to jot down what comes up, was today little easier, or maybe a little more challenging, did you not want to spend time today but you did it anyway, could be as simple as just a few words.
My goal here is less about getting better at the pose and more about the journey of the pose throughout the 30 days. No doubt we will improve a posture by practicing everyday, but the practice of yoga is less about the shapes we make in the body and more about what comes up during those shapes. I encourage you to take this time to connect to your body, your mind and your practice in a deeper or at least different way. I am looking forward to taking this journey along with you.
Here is today’s mini practice introducing this month’s challenge….don’t forget to join the Facebook Group if you want to catch these classes live!
Week 2 – Pitfalls and Modifications
As much benefit as we can gain from our yoga practice, we have just as much chance to injure ourselves if we are not being mindful of the body in the poses. We can push our flexibility to improve and gain strength in more difficult poses, but we do all have some structural limitations and our bodies are not built to move in some ways. This is why our teachers give so many alignment cues for poses to help us with a few things: finding our body in space; learning to manipulate the body safely while maintaining alignment; and helping us to adapt the pose for our body and our practice level in that moment. Very often in class I speak about knowing the direction we are headed even if we arent there yet, the directions let us guide our body safely towards the way we want to go while allowing for the time needed to travel there.
Honoring our bodies is the number one most important thing to remember when you show up to the mat. Our ego getting the best of us is often what leads to injury, we see another student or the teacher taking a pose further than we should and we want to do it to. I think we all go through this in yoga, becoming aware of this ego takeover can allow you to start to drop the ego and focus on your own practice. For a long time I refused props in class not wanting to be the fat girl in class and need help, wanting to show everyone that I can do it! Man am I glad I realized that props are amazing and that no one else cares what I am doing, if anything they are thinking similar thoughts…look at that person I wish I was like them…chasing that ego around the room totally focused on themselves just like I was. (This is true in life off the mat too btw!)
It is easy to find ourselves stuck in a rut of bad habits in our practice if we never take the time to really learn the foundations of the poses, if we just look at the shapes people are making with their bodies we miss out on what the body is actually supposed to be doing. When we have these foundations and alignment cues we can make the pose work for us rather than trying to force our body into a shape we think it should be in, this is often how we end up injured or maybe just not enjoying the practice because we think we cant do it. This is one of the great benefits of deep diving into a new pose like this each month.
In this weeks mini practice (see the video below) we go over several modifications that you can practice throughout the month. First up you can stay a little closer to the ground and practice with one knee down this will allow you to take some of the balance out and work on the strength and alignment in the pose. Some other options we went over are using the wall to help, line up the standing foot parallel to the wall and press your back against the wall as you come into the pose, this will help show us where we are in space, often the chest tends to collapse forward a bit in the pose and really we want the back flat against the wall….roll the top shoulder back as the bottom shoulder rolls under opening the chest to the side. Another way to use the wall is to press the sole of your raised foot against the wall once you come into the pose, similar to keeping the knee on the ground this will help add some stability while you work on alignment and strength. Lastly don’t forget to grab a block or something else to help balance on and bring the ground a little closer while working on the standing version.
Check out this weeks mini practice to see some of these variations in action…..
Week 3 – Why Should I?
So… we know that yoga is good for us, and we know that we usually feel better after spending some time on the mat, but do you know why? If we are going to spend time every month practicing a posture let’s take a minute and start to get to know it a little better…..
Since October both begins and ends with a full moon I thought this was the perfect month to make half moon pose our pose of the month. Balance postures come with so many benefits plus they are fun! For me balance postures can lighten up your practice a bit, let them be fun, let them be silly, laugh at yourself when you fall and come back into it. In yoga and in life we fall off our path and then come back to it, over and over again.
Some of the benefits specific to half moon pose are:
- Strengthen lower body – improve strength and mobility in the lower body from feet to glutes.
- Reduce sciatica pain – if you’ve dealt with this you know how awful it can (been there!!) any kind of pain is no fun but this can really knock you out, practicing this posture regululary can soothe the irritation and inflammation of the sciatic nerve and reduce the pain you’re in.
- Improved coordination and balance – balance is so important, especially as we age….improving our balance is key to helping prevent falls. Not only does this posture help keep our bodies balanced but also our minds helping to improve concentration and create a calm and steady mind.
- Improves digestion – health starts from the inside out and improved digestion is to key to a healthy body and mind, this pose helps keep digestion working at its peak.
Check out our week 3 mini practice below to continue your month long journey with this posture!
Week 4 – The Challenge Doesn’t End Here
Just because the month is winding down doesn’t mean our practice ends here, there is always room for more growth and expansion as we continue to move through our practice. We looked at several variations throughout the month to help us work on building strength and balance in this posture. Today we added more to the mix to continue to challenge us as we grow in our practice. Something I love about yoga is that it is never over we constantly evolve and grow each time we show up to the mat.
To add to our challenge in this week’s mini class we explored some ways to expand on half moon pose. The first add on we looked at is reaching back and grabbing the foot while in half moon. You can also explore this option from the floor in modified half moon when the knee is down taking some of the balance out of the equation. When you grab the foot you want to kick into the hand creating a bit of a back bend. The second option we worked on today is revolved half moon. To execute this variation we are switching the hands, so normally with right foot forward we have the right hand down and left up and the torso is open to the left, in revolved half moon with right foot forward we have left hand down, right hand up and torso open to the right.
See these new options in action in this week’s mini class below. See everyone again next week for a bonus practice together before kicking off the November challenge.