Each month we revisit foundational poses to make sure you’re getting the most from your time on the mat. This month, we’re looking at crescent moon with YogaRu.
When was the last time you spent any amount of real time in one of the foundational yoga poses? Stayed in it for a few breaths and tried to adjust your alignment or paid attention to how it really felt? All too often we fly through our foundational practice to get to the big showy postures. So, we’re going to take a beginners pose each month and break it down. Ensuring tyour practice continues to grow and grow no matter your level. This month, we’re looking at high lunge.
Keep it simple
Your favourite yoga pose doesn’t have to be one of the big poses. The poses we see on social media are beautiful to look at, and can be quite aspirational, but don’t really reflect the poses that are the essence of the practice. The magic begins the minute you step on your yoga mat with the simpler poses. The poses that are often overlooked as not much more than warm up poses. This month’s pose is one of my favourites and one you’ll encounter in almost every class. It’s Ashta Chandrasana. Or crescent moon, or more commonly known as high lunge.
What’s the best approach?
As a standing pose crescent moon builds focus, heat, stamina and strength. It also increases circulation and metabolism. And finally improves posture, spinal health and coordination. This pose is more challenging than you’d expect and prepares you for more complex poses like Warrior I.
Yoga is not just about stretching. It’s about stretching and strengthening in equal measure. What does that mean? That even within the stretching element we try to contain the stretch. By finding the strength of the muscle first you’ll get a more supported, injury-free practice. In crescent lunge the temptation is to let the weight of the upper body sink the hips down as low as they can go. In this position you have lost the support of the muscles in the hip joints and are more likely to overstretch. A more supportive version of the pose is to come 90% of your full range of motion. Firm the buttocks and hug your outer hips to the midline. Feel strength in the muscles that are flexing and a contained supported stretch in the muscles that are extending. Get familiar with how this feels and how this principle might feel in all your poses for a more sustainable lifelong practice.
Prepping for crescent moon
This sequence has six rounds of crescent moon to get straight into those strong leg muscles. It gives you plenty of opportunities to re-find crescent moon. The feet are a crucial part of the pose. Press down into the ground and draw your hip bone back into their sockets like you have magnets in your hip. Grounding down through your feet will trigger strength and stability up your legs, into the hip joints and through the whole length of your spine.
Print out the Crescent Moon sequence, have these alignments cues to hand and renew your love of the simple pose in your practice.
- From Adho Mukha Svanasana (down dog), inhale, step your right foot between your hands, exhale here.
- Inhale, press into your feet to come up, reach your arms up high, shoulder width apart or palms together. Stack your front knee over your front ankle.
- Press out through your left heel, firm your back leg, lift the thigh of your back leg up, hug your outer hips to the midline.
- Press into your feet and push the floor away, firm your left buttocks.
- Lift your hip bones up to stack your pelvis perpendicular to the ground.
- Draw your navel towards your spine, broaden through your collarbones, lengthen through your spine to the tip of your crown, gaze forward or to your fingertips.
- Before you come up to high lunge make sure your feet are at least hip distance apart – like your feet are on train tracks. The wider your feet are the easier it is to balance when standing.
- In the second round of crescent moon you will start with a bent back leg and lift your hip bones up to find the stretch in the hip flexors. Then gradually move to straighten out the back leg any amount without letting the hip bone tilt forward again.
Ruth Delahunty is a 200hr Yoga Alliance certified teacher and founder of Yogaru.ie, a yoga lifestyle website that promotes a yoga way of living both on and off the mat. For more information visit yogaru.ie.