As you stretch in this pose, your body traces the smooth arc of a crescent moon (chandra). You will have to practice conscientiously, but when you finally balance without fear it is a feat to celebrate.
Steps to practice
- Begin lying on your stomach with your arms at your sides. Rest your forehead on the mat. Extend your legs straight behind you, hip-width apart. Do not roll your heels inward or outward. Instead, press your weight evenly across the tops of both feet.
- Inhale and raise your head to look forward. On your exhale, lift your chest and arms. Keep your arms alongside your body with your palms facing down. Lift your upper spine and reach your arms back toward your feet.
- Use your inner thighs to lift your legs up toward the ceiling. Reach straight back through the balls of your feet. Your weight should rest on your lower ribs, belly, and front pelvis.
- Keep your chest lifted as you widen across your collarbones. Draw your shoulder blades into your back ribs and extend them away from each other.
- Gaze at your cheeks. Keep your breath smooth and even.
- Hold for up to one minute. On an exhalation, slowly release your body to the ground. Place your right ear on the mat and relax your arms at your sides for a few breaths. Repeat the pose for the same amount of time, then rest with your left ear on the mat.
- Improves digestion
- Improves back flexibility
- Strengthens the muscles of the spine, buttocks, and backs of the arms and legs
- Stretches the shoulders, chest, belly, and thighs
- Improves posture
- Stimulates abdominal organs
- Helps relieve stress
Lifting too high or too quickly as you come into the pose can trigger a cramp in the soles of your feet, hamstrings, or lower back. If this happens, try reducing the height and/or come up more slowly. People with back pain should start with one leg, and as you get stronger, gradually progress to the classic version. If you experience back pain in the pose, consult with your teacher about your alignment before trying it again on your own.