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Namaste Journal

Practice Guide: Season 1 Episode 6 - Half Moon

Half Moon - Overview
Beginner: A challenging practice that will improve your balance and strengthen your feet, ankles and legs while stretching the spine and backs of the legs. Take care when moving from the low point of Lateral Angle to Center. Narrow your stance if you are uncomfortable. During the sun moon breath-body link be mindful of your spinal alignment as you inhale and reach to the sun - tuck your tailbone under and focus on pulling your belly and chest up. On the exhale, contract your belly and use the strength of your arms to bring the calm energy of the moon back to you. Advanced: The Half Moon Sequence is a blissfully sensual practice that will improve your lateral balance and unite the mind with the body. Focus on really energizing the hands and the feet while moving fluidly from one pose to the next. Enjoy the opposition of the practice, grounding the body while reaching and lengthening up and outward. Upon exhalation in the Sun Moon breath-body link, feel the earth energy rising through you, lifting with the Bandhas. On the inhale, stretch your arms and upper body outward and up as the lower body reaches down to the earth.

Warrior I

Beginner: Begin with an awareness of your alignment. Your front knee should bend to be in line with your foot and go no further. This protects the knee from injury. Keep your hips and shoulders even. Is your back leg completely straight? Is your weight evenly distributed across both legs? You should feel all points of your foot pressing into the ground. Advanced: As an advanced practitioner, Warrior I is a strong and confident pose for you. Bring your focus to your tail bone, dropping it down and tucking it under as you lift your chest and shoulders up and back. Feel the energy from your core extend through the sides of your waist and straight up through your arms to your fingertips. Take your gaze up to the fingers, feeling the power of your focus.

Warrior II

Beginner: For now focus on becoming familiar with the physical expression of the pose. Check your alignment - is your bent knee directly over your foot? Is your back leg straight? Are your feet in one line? Drop your shoulders and reach with your fingertips. Feel your body's length. Advanced: Your muscles now know where to take you on the mat. Turn your focus to deepening into the pose. Sink into your hips, opening them slowly by keeping your upper body completely still as you move in and out of the posture. Can you feel your front hip open to allow for this movement? Feel the power of the exhale breath; core is tight; eyes are focused.

Lateral Angle

Beginner: Lateral Angle is a great posture for developing strength in your ankles and leg muscles. If it is difficult to bring your hand all the way to the floor, keep your elbow resting on the thigh - but try not to lean to heavily on the thigh; instead, keep lifting from your core by squeezing your abdominal muscles. Once you feel comfortable here, try it with your hand on the floor or on a block for support. Remember to keep your knee directly above your ankle to avoid pressure on this delicate joint. Advanced: Now that your hand is planted firmly on the ground, focus on shifting the weight to be evenly spead between your hand and your two feet. Can you push out from each section of your back foot while you push down into your front foot and hand? Squeeze your legs towards one another to relieve pressure from the ankle joints. Reach with your top arm, chin tucked into armpit, gaze lifted. Feel one smooth line of energy from the tips of your top fingers all the way down to the edge of your back foot.

Half Moon Balance

Beginner: The Half Moon Balance will improve your confidence and strengthen your ankles and legs. If it is too difficult to reach your hand to the ground, use a block to help you attain the posture. Advanced: You are comfortable enough in the Half Moon Balance to appreciate the elegant grace of the pose. Focus now on grounding down the bottom hand and foot while reaching and extending through the uplifted arm and leg. Is your chest open? For an added challenge, try to shift your gaze upward.

Needle Pose

Beginner: Needle is an exciting and beautiful pose for beginners. It is a challenging pose that strengthens your legs and elongates your spine. Focus on dropping the weight of the head down to counterbalance the lift of the leg. Use your hands for balance and make sure to keep your weight evenly distributed across your hands and all of your fingers. Remember: however high you lift your leg is fine. Advanced: To deepen into needle pose, use the energy of the standing leg. Send energy down through that leg by pressing into the ground with the whole foot. Now pull power up through the arms and all the way up to the lifting toes. Keep the weight of the head dropping down and the lifting leg rising up.

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