Sugarcane Pose - Ardha Chandra Chapasana

How to Do Sugarcane Pose - Ardha Chandra Chapasana
Sugarcane Pose - Ardha Chandra Chapasana. Ann Pizer

Type of Pose: Standing, balancing, backbending

Benefits: Improves core strength and balance, stretches the quadriceps and hamstrings.

Advanced yoga poses often combine several challenging elements in new ways to keep you from getting too comfortable. If a pose has become easy, there's almost always some way to kick it up a notch so that your practice never becomes boring or static.

Sugarcane pose does this for half moon pose.

 As a standing balance, half moon already has a lot going on. But if you're ready for more, try adding in the intense quad stretch and backbend, all while keeping your balance, of course, of sugarcane pose. Needless to say, adding these new elements completely changes a pose that you may have been practicing for years, taking you out of your comfort zone, forcing you to readjust your balance and your perspective. 

Half moon pose is called ardha chandrasana in Sanskrit. Sugarcane is called ardha chandra chapasana. The addition of chapasana most likely comes from capa, which means arc or bow, referring to the shape of the upper body and lifted leg as your spine comes into extension. 

Instructions:

1. Begin in half moon pose, standing on your right leg with the left leg parallel to the floor and the left arm lifted straight up.

2. Bend your left knee and release your left arm down to catch hold of the top of your left foot behind your back with your left hand.

3. Keep your left thigh roughly parallel to the floor. It's ok if the thigh rises a bit, but raising the leg is not the primary goal of the pose.

4. Draw your left foot toward your body with the left hand, but at the same time press into your hand with your foot. This push-pull action creates a bow shape in the spine, turning the pose into a back bend.

5. Hold for one to five breaths before releasing the left foot back into half moon position.

6. Return the left foot to the floor and try the other side.

Beginners' Tips:

1. A block under the right hand can help you get the lift you need to keep your chest open as you explore this posture, even if you don't usually use one for half moon pose.

2. If you are having trouble keeping your balance as you get into the pose, bend the leg you're standing on slightly while transitioning and then restraighten that leg once you have ahold of your left foot.

3. The most important part of this pose is to keep your chest opening toward the ceiling just like it is in ardha chandrasana. If you can grab your left foot but it causes your chest to rotate toward the floor, you've lost the basis of the posture and will likely be unable to explore the backbend. Refer to tips 1 and 2 to find ways to keep your chest open.

Advanced Tips:

1. To work your core even more, start to take to weight out of your right hand. Slowly lift that hand off the floor so that you are balancing just on one leg.

2. From there, you can start to transition from ardha chandras chapasana to king dancer pose by slowly coming up to a standing position, keeping hold of your left foot the whole time.

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