Half Moon Pose can be a great way to release both muscular and fascial tension along the side body. The tension found here, from ankle to underarm, is often overlooked as coming from somewhere else entirely – like the tops of the shoulders or the low back. By opening the side body, we open the hips and the shoulders and find more comfort and ease in our movements.
While this is usually done as a standing pose, I often like to add this reclining version to my yoga practice to really focus on the side stretch. And the Thai Yoga Massage version with a partner, will open your awareness (not just your body) even more. Experiment with the following variations and see what you learn from each one….
How to do Reclining Half Moon Pose:
Try this first as a passive Yin pose, simply placing yourself in the pose, then relaxing and breathing into to for several minutes on each side. Once you have achieved some fascial release here, the muscles will be able to find a deeper stretch and relaxation.
Then, turn this into an active stretch, reaching through feet, head and hands, adjusting your body into the arch of a crescent moon. See if you can find one single line of stretch from your ankle to your armpit. Hold for 10-12 big breaths before moving to the other side.
- Lie down on your back, crossing your ankles to one side.
- Take the arm of the long side of your body by your ear and stretch that side even longer as you pull that shoulder blade down your back.
- At the same time, lengthen the inside line of your legs and keep your weight even on your bottom and both sides of your low back equidistant from the floor.
- To go deeper, move your shoulders over toward the same side as your feet.
How to do Standing Half Moon Pose:
Now, let’s bring this huge stretch into the standing version of this pose.
- Stand with feet hip width apart, firmly anchored to your mat. Arms overhead.
- Keep your weight even in your feet as you shift your hips to one side while taking your shoulders and arms to the other side, creating that crescent moon shape.
- Reach through your hands, head and feet while you pull your shoulderblades down your back. Seek the stretch you found when you were reclined.
- Hold for 5-10 breaths before trying the other side.
How to do Thai Yoga Massage Half Moon Pose:
Not sure you’ve found your deepest stretch, biggest opening? Try this version with a partner, it can take you even deeper into understand the release of this pose.
- Lift your partner’s feet and move them together to one side a foot or so. Lay them on the floor crossing at the ankles. Take the easy cross – it doesn’t really matter what ankle is on top.
- Take your partner’s arm (on the side the feet are toward) and place it down along the side of their body.
- Take their other arm up and over their head.
- Sit by their head and hold their forearm.
- Place your foot on the top of their opposite shoulder (the side where the arm is down.)
- Push with your foot while pulling their arm to create a side stretch.
- To release, bring their arm down by their side, pulling to straighten out their shoulders. Then bring their legs back to a neutral position.
- Repeat on the other side
Cautions: Do NOT do this pose with anyone who has dislocating shoulders. Be cautious with all other shoulder and wrist issues, as there is significant pull through these joints.
So, what did you learn?
After all this side stretching, how do your hips and shoulders feel? Was there one version of this pose that really resonated with you?
Try a few other poses, do they feel a little different? Can you access the poses differently now?
I would love to know what you learned from this! Leave a comment or send me an email and let me know.
Happy Yoga-ing! 🙂
–> If you are looking for more ways to deepen your yoga experience, check out my Tuesday Thai Yoga Massage posts. Most of these posts have a “For Yogis” section that helps you to explore the pose on your own, as well as the instructions for a partner version.