Chopasana in Ardha Chandrasana (Sugarcane in Half Moon Pose) is one of the yummiest variations in the book. It’s a lovely backbend that stretches out the psoas and hips while opening your heart. It’s already difficult to balance, and adding the wrap takes on a whole new dimension! I’d recommend practicing your regular Chopasana as well as wrapping your top arm in Half Moon so that you get comfortable with all of the actions. The odds are you’ll fall trying to do this. Just remember you already have an entire leg on the ground, so it’s all good! Be fearless, and have fun!
A. You can enter Half Moon from a forward fold by placing your right fingertips a few inches in front of your right foot and rolling your hips and torso open, or you can lean forward into the pose from Warrior II by kicking off of your back leg as your shift the fingers forward onto the floor. Either way, make sure that your right shoulder is stacked over your fingertips and that your lifted leg is parallel to the ground.
B. Internally rotate your top arm and bend the elbow reaching for your hip. Depending on the mobility of your shoulder, you can reach for your inner thigh, hip, love handle, or grab your clothing. Keep your gaze down while you do this to maintain balance.
C. Keep the wrapped upper arm and bend your left knee bringing your heel in towards your bottom. Keep the leg parallel to the ground.
D. Extend long in your right waist trying to match the length of the left waist. Keep your lower belly engaged and extend through your tailbone. Gaze at your base hand and try to hover your hand above the mat. Keep your standing leg engaged.
E. Keep your gaze at one point and start to creep your right hand up your standing leg until you can get to your hip. No rush! The right hip firms in, the chest stays open, and the left shoulder head rolls back.
F. Once your hand gets to the hip you are very close to your foot! Bend your lifted knee deeper so you can draw your heel closer to your bottom. Lift your right hand not only back but UP. The foot will be higher than you think it is. When you find your foot grab hold of the big toe side of your foot.
Create all the actions of Bow Pose now: Press your foot into your hand so that the shin pushes back. This action will start to deepen your backbend and chest opener. Roll your left shoulder back as the right drops toward the ground. You can gaze down for balance or gaze sideways/up for more of a challenge.
Kathryn Budig is jet-setting yoga teacher who teaches online at Yogaglo. She is the Contributing Yoga Expert for Women’s Health Magazine, Yogi-Foodie for MindBodyGreen, creator of Gaiam’s Aim True Yoga DVD, co-founder of Poses for Paws and author of Rodale’s The Women’s Health Big Book of Yoga . Follow her on Twitter; Facebook; or on her website. Come on retreat with her in Stowe, Vermont this October for yoga, archery + outdoor beauty via The Travel Yogi.