In sanskrit ardha means half and chandra means moon.
If I could have a favourite pose in yoga, Ardha Chandrasana would be one of them. It combines strength, flexibitity, balance, extension, opening and lightness.
The moon has significant symbolic meaning in yoga mythology. In Hatha yoga the sun and the moon represent the two opposite energies of the human body. The word Hatha translates as Ha meaning sun and tha meaning moon. The sun reflects the masculine, active, heating aspects, where as the moon refers to the feminine, calm and cooling.
This pose improves coordination and ones sense of balance, it helps to relieve stress and improves digestion. It can help with conditions such as anxiety, backache, osteoporosis, sciatica, fatigue, constipation, gastritis, indigestion and menstrual pain. It also strenghtens the abdomen, thighs, buttocks and spine, stretches the groins, hamstrings and calves, shoulders, chest and spine.
There are a few cautions with the pose, people who have neck problems may find it difficult to hold the head up, those who suffer from headaches and migraines, eye strain, varicose vains, diarrhoea or insomnia should not practice this pose.
This is the only standing asana that can be used in a restoritive sequence, as long as it is practiced with the back against a wall. Other modifications of the pose include keeping the foot at the wall until free balance becomes easier. Have the hand on a block if the hand doesn't reach the floor. Keep the top hand on the hip. Turn the head to look straight ahead, not up. Bend the standing leg slightly.
Ardha Chandrasana is usually sequenced in between other standing poses.
Some useful preparation poses for ardha chandrasana are: