In the improvers classes in July we have been focusing on Ardha Chandrasana or Half moon posture as it translates from Sanskrit. The Sanskrit word chandra refers to the brilliance of the moon. In a pose like Ardha Chandrasana, the extension of your torso in one direction and the uplifted leg in the other draws a line that represents the flat edge of a half moon, while the energy in your extended arms and standing leg radiate out like beams in the night sky.
We have been playing with the balance element in this posture that comes from strong roots through the feet. As those of you that come to my classes will know, I put a lot of emphasis on Tadasana as I know that feeling of stability and uplift that is accessed in this pose will lend insight in to every standing pose. I like to remember that it is always a process of balance throughout the practice, that there is no one point that we are trying to reach but paying attention to the continual unfolding of movements along the way to learn more about our bodies and ourselves.
We have also been opening the hips and gently encouraging the hamstrings to relax. In this way the lifted leg is able to extend towards 90 degree and this makes for a long spine, which means that the chest is free to stay parallel to the wall and this in turn encourages open shoulders, with one hand rooted in to the ground and the other extending upwards. Therefore in all directions the limbs of the body are extending like rays of the moon and there can be a feeling a great expansion within the posture.
The benefit of Ardha Chanrandrasana are:-
This has been a very fitting time to practice Ardha Chandrana as we have been experiencing the third big bright super moon of three in 2013 recently, with the full moon falling on July 22nd - 23rd.
I am running beginners and improvers classes at the beautiful 14 Alva Street. Each month we will have a special peak posture that we are going to be focusing on and finding new ways to explore and experiment with. This means that throughout the month we will be looking at the areas of the body that we need to work on in terms of flexibility and strength to see how we can access the posture. Spending a whole month focusing on one posture seems like a lot but there is a huge amount to learn in each yoga posture and in this way students can build up a bank of knowledge on it and see themselves progress as the month goes on. Of course there will be different postures that we will be practicing in the lead up to our peak posture every week and lots of room to try new things. This way we also get the chance to explore deeper in to things as well as broader and see what can be discovered afresh about the peak focus postures. This quote says a lot to me about how I feel about working on yoga asana. However, the top of the mountain (perfect posture) is not the goal in yoga and maybe it does not even exist, just your own expression right now!“Mountains should be climbed with as little effort as possible and without desire. The reality of your own nature should determine the speed. If you become restless, speed up. If you become winded, slow down. You climb the mountain in an equilibrium between restlessness and exhaustion.”
― Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values
I hope to share some of the monthly focuses in this blog. Please check back and see!
I have bare feet a lot of the time. For yoga, of course, but also just to walk around the house. As a treat to myself I will take my shoes as I walk on Portobello beach or through the Edinburgh meadows grass. I love that feel of the physical ground beneath my feel. It is somehow nourishing and feels childlike, carefree and connected. There is a whole barefoot movement out there:- http://www.barefooters.org/index.html and lots of evidence and theories of why it is so good for you, but mainly I just love the feel of it.
All this exposure means my feet need some tlc. So here is how to look after your feet with homemade polish which is chemical free, really cheap and so good for you!
1 - Fill an old jam jar 1/3 full of sugar or salt. This will be the abrasive which will get rid of the dead skin leaving your feet super smooth. You can experiment with adding different size crystals from rock salt to caster sugar depending of how you prefer the texture.
2 - Pour over oil (could be olive or almond or sunflower or whatever you prefer, I am currently using rapeseed) to just over the sugar/salt line. Oiling your feet is really nourishing for the skin and soothing for the mind, as there are many nerve endings in the feet. It is an age old ayuredic practice. This link will give you more info on this and what oil is the best one for your to use depending on your dosha (constituency).
3 - Add your favorite essential oil, perhaps tea tree or lavender, so that your feet will smell nice as well as being beautiful too.
4 - Use the scrub in the shower, massaging it in to your feet a few times a week.
Let me know how you get on!
Kristina is a Yoga teacher and artist who lives in Braunton, North Devon with her husband, two children and a cat.