Monday, April 25, 2011

Easy Stuff: Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon) pose against the Wall

One thing I love about going to different yoga classes around town (and especially when I travel), is that I always pick up at least one new and interesting tip to pass onto my students. No matter where I go, the teacher  invariably does or says something that makes me think, hey ... that's a great idea. It's not just experienced teachers that furnish these aha! moments either - newer teachers, being fresh from the textbooks and training, often remind earlier graduates about the correct way to do things. 

So I must thank a teacher at the Ypsi Studio in Ypsilante, Michigan, a small town near Ann Arbor. I was there for Christmas and persuaded my hosts to drive me through the thick of the snow to a class at this little fitness studio in Michigan Ave. My hosts had expressed enthusiastic interest in doing the class, but as the day wore on, bailed, one by one.

There were only four of us in the class, taught by Ed Jackson, originally from LA. Ed showed us a brilliant way to teach the basic but rather challenging one foot balancing pose, Ardha Chandrasana, or Half Moon pose, using the wall. Here it is, with thanks to Liza Bermudez from Yogamaya who helped me refine it:

Hold each step for a few breaths to fine tune the position. Activate all muscles in legs and core - it will help you balance - and don't forget to breathe.

1.  Have a block ready at the wall. Stand far enough from the wall to a) bend entire top half of body 90 degrees at waist, and b) place palms flat on wall. Head should be between your upper arms

2. Raise left leg 90 degrees, foot flexed, so as to form a straight (straighter than mine, please!) line from heel to hands. You're effectively doing Warrior 3 using the wall as a support.
3. Now turn the hands clockwise 90 degrees as shown, and turn the entire body to face the left. Keep the arms fairly straight, using the wall as a support as you gain balance on the standing leg.
4. Now reach the right hand down and place on block. You can also put the left hand on the hip, and from there straighten it out and reach the fingers for the ceiling. As you get better you can move the block to a lower level or completely. Breathe!

Some classes will teach this with the raised back foot against the wall instead of hands, but some may find this easier - some may find it harder! 

Interestingly, I've often heard teachers call this "yoga stealing" and say things like, "I hope you don't mind me stealing that." I know that it's not easy to get a regular yoga teaching spot, especially in places where every third person seems to be a yoga teacher. But I think of it as "yoga sharing." The more we can "unintimidate" people into doing yoga by passing around good tips and tricks, the saner and less stressed our world will be.

More tips from great teachers: Yoga Rover