Lessons from the Mat: Take Focus to the Next Level with Half Moon

Article posted in: Fitness
Eliza Darling Half Moon Pose Lessons From the Mat

By: Eliza Darling

As intelligent, thoughtful, inquisitive and logical beings, humans have an impeccable ability to talk ourselves out of doing something we don’t want to do. In our heads, we can make a list of why we should or shouldn’t do something. And the list that supports what we want, is always much longer.

We use logic and reason to dissuade ourselves from doing what we know must be done—cooking, cleaning, working out, eating healthy, calling that person we’ve put off calling for months, pushing the assignment to the absolute deadline.  As a yoga teacher, I constantly have students I haven’t seen in awhile shy away from me in public because they don’t want to address why they haven’t been in class. And as soon as they do offer an explanation (always without prompting), they ramble a list of reasons how life has gotten in the way of their practice. I get it, I’m as guilty as the next person, justifying why I shouldn’t do what I KNOW I needs to be done.

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When we put more energy into building or achieving something than destroying or avoiding it, we’re able to accomplish our goals in a mindful and efficient way. If a conscious decision to “do,” instead of to “don’t” do, is made, the energy pool will be spent on making it happen rather than strengthening the internal argument for why it shouldn’t.

The mind’s perspective will determine the strength or weakness of the probability of achieving/completing the goal. We must dedicate absolute determination when addressing it, whether the goal is lofty or small. It isn’t about the time or effort it will require. The key to success is trusting that the mere act of accomplishing the task will be a reward in and of itself.

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When life gets busy, physical engagement is the first thing to take a backseat, mainly because it’s thought of as something that doesn’t—or shouldn’t—take priority. Primarily, this is because physical engagement takes energy, effort and time that we often feel we don’t have. But, we also neglect our physical self because our other obligations (such as family, work and friends) take precedent over our self-care.

We can put off that yoga class, but we can’t skip out on that critical work assignment. We can miss a run, but we can’t miss a meal for our children.  While we have a responsibility to care for our jobs and relationships, we also must prioritize dedicating time and energy to building and nourish our internal and external well being.

POSE OF THE WEEK: ARDHA CHANDRASANA (HALF MOON POSE)

Ardha Chandrasana is a challenging balancing pose that requires focus, strength and detail to alignment.

BENEFITS:

  1. Strengthens the abdominals, ankles, thighs, and glutes.
  2. Stretches the groins, hamstrings, calves, shoulders, chest and spine.
  3. Can help improve coordination and sense of balance.
  4. Helps relieve stress.
  5. Can help stimulate digestion.

HOW TO DO IT:

  1. Begin in Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana from last week) on the right side.
  2. Inhale, bending the right knee and sliding the left foot forward about 6-12” towards the top of the mat.
  3. At the same time, place the right fingertips on the floor at least 12” in front of the right pinky toe.
  4. Exhale and press the right heel firmly into the mat. Then, straighten the leg.
  5. Simultaneously lift the left leg parallel (a slightly higher than parallel) to the floor.
  6. Flex the left foot and extend energy out through the heel to keep the raised leg strong and engaged. Be careful not to hyper-extend the standing leg, and make sure the knee is pointing forward instead of rotating inward.
  7. Rotate the left shoulder and hip back, so that the left hip is aligned on top of the right hip and the left shoulder is aligned on top of the right shoulder.Eliza Darling Yoga Lessons From the Half Moon Pose Step
  8. Beginners should keep the left hand on the hip and the gaze at the floor. More advanced practitioners can extend the left hand to the ceiling and lift the gaze to meet the hand.
  9. The standing foot bears most of the weight, with very little weight in the supporting fingertips. The right hand is only a tool to help with the balance.
  10.  Lengthen the tailbone toward the extended heel and slide the shoulder blades down the back.
  11.  Hold for 30 seconds to a minute.
  12.  Exhale, lower the lifted leg to the floor and return to Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana).
  13.  Repeat on the other side.

TIPS & MODIFICATIONS:

  • Avoid bending the standing knee.
  • Keep the gaze down to steady the balance.
  • Internally rotate the lifted thigh, so that the big toe is slightly lower than the heel.
  • Rest front hand on a block for a supportive modification.
  • Execute the pose with the back against a wall for added support.

*Always consult with your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine.