Asana of the Week: Ardha Chandra Chapasana

This week's asana is Ardha Chandra Chapasana, a challenging standing balancing posture with an asymmetrical backbend thrown in for good measure.  This pose deeply opens the inner thigh and groin of the standing leg while giving a good stretch to the hip flexor and quadriceps of the bound leg.  Ardha Chandra Chapasana effectively expands the rib cage, broadens the chest, and brings an active stretch to the abdominal muscles as the front body is gently pulled open by the pressure of the foot into the hand.

This pose is an obvious extension of Ardha Chandrasana (Half-moon Pose), and is sometimes offered as an advanced variation in mixed-level classes.  To come into Ardha Chandra Chapasana, begin in Ardha Chandrasana.  With an exhalation, bend the knee of the floating leg and reach back with the top hand to grab the outer edge of the foot.  As you inhale, begin to gently press the foot into the hand and revolve the chest up while you relax the shoulders back.  Turn the gaze up if you feel steady.

Ardha Chandra Chapasana has been manifesting quite a lot in my home practice this week.  I like to practice this pose early in the standing sequence as a preparation for deeper asymmetrical backbends, ala Eka Pada Rajakapotasana variations or Hanumanasana.  It's a great opener early in the practice, as it gives my always-tight quadriceps and psoas a much-needed stretch and leaves me with a deep sense of space and expansion.

Ardha Chandra Chapasana Balancing Sequence:  This standing sequence will test your balance and strengthen the standing leg as it opens the hips and lengthens the hamstrings.

1.  Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
2.  Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana A  (Extended Hand-to-Foot Pose A)
3.  Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana B  (Extended Hand-to-Foot Pose B)
4.  Parivritta Hasta Padangusthasana  (Revolved Hand-to-Foot Pose)
5.  Ardha Chandrasana  (Half-moon Pose)
6.  Ardha Chandra Chapasana  (Sugar Cane Pose)
7.  Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana  (Standing Splits)
8.  Uttanasana (Intense Stretch Posture/Standing Forward Fold)
9.  Repeat steps 1-8, standing on the left leg


  1. I like the name! I have always taught it as a backbending/bound variation of half moon without a lovely sanskrit title :) I love to move into it from natarajasana A. thank you for all your insightful writing, I am always amazed at how you express wonderful concepts of the practice.

  2. Thanks for the lovely comment, Alice :)

    Question: When you move from natarajasana to ardha chandra chapasana, do you then open the body, bringing the leg on the same plane as the torso, or do you keep the chest squared forward and kick the foot up? Just curious, I've seen it done both ways.

  3. I definitely open the body first, finding that subtle rotation as I reach my hand for the floor. I come into it from a pretty deep natarajasana with a lot of hip opening (mis alignment some might say)

  4. I just had to come back to this pose to remember the name, and then I had to find out the sanskrit meaning.... Half Moon Sugar Cane Pose! love it even more now! Just posted a sequence from this morning class :)

  5. This will be my peak pose in a class I'm teaching on surrender and the shoulders. I'll be doing a lot of binding leading up to it, including bound trikonasana and bound parsvak, starting out with gentle shoulder openers like clock pose against the wall and seated shoulder work (extension) with reverse namaste, etc. For my open level classes, this will be a challenge pose due to the balance and openeness needed. Thanks for the inspiration! Awesome site!

  6. DakinisBliss - Thanks for reading. Good luck with your class!

  7. I am exploring this pose with a Yoga Journal article and was trying to find the meaning of the Sanskrit name. According to this Sanskrit dictionary: http://spokensanskrit.de/
    'chapa' means 'arc'. Wonder where 'sugar cane' came from? Anyway, it is a fun pose, by whatever name. :)

  8. philip ChristodoulouOctober 26, 2011 at 1:30 PM

    so important to do this after sun salutations as the apex of the subsequent moon salutations.
    It always worries me to add Ardha candrasana variations after warriors/triangles as there is a bio-mechanical and energetic disconnect.
    ie. Sun (warming), moon (stretching-balancing), warrior/triangles(hips/core/thorax -yantra)
    Yogacarya Christodoulou
    Anuttara Yoga Shala, Florida

  9. Can you tell me the contraindications. I am guessing back injuries, hamstring injuries, shoulder injuries. I teach a level 1-2 Hatha class and like to add one challenging pose for the students to work on and be proud of. I do have a couple students with tight backs and hamstrings, but no injuries. Do you have ideas for modifications or props? We've been working on Ardha Chandrasana for several months and this month's challenging pose was Uttitha Hasta Padangustasana.