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The Evolution Of A Half Moon (And News)

I am so happy right now. The weather gods must have heard my rant on Monday about working out when it’s cold because it’s 70 degrees and sunny in Charlotte right now…and it’s supposed to stay like this for the next four days. I could cry! Thank you weird southern weather for always bringing us a dose of spring in January when our warm-blooded souls can’t take it anymore!

I’m not the only one happy about the weather. Sullie refuses to come in the house. I’m going to go out for a run later…in shorts and a tank top!

Breakfast this morning was a oatmeal with bananas topped with peanut butter and jam.

And lunch was chicken, greens and butternut squash soup. This tasted amazing after eating frozen Trader Joe’s enchiladas for dinner last night.

Before lunch I was teaching a lunchtime yoga class and I started talking with one of my regular students about how difficult she finds balancing poses. I told her that it was an extremely common difficulty to have and shared with her my own struggle with half moon pose when I was new to my practice.

When I started practicing yoga half moon was my nemesis pose. I could not for the life of me figure out how to gracefully lift my arm and leg in the air simultaneously while balancing on one leg, stacking my hips and lifting my gaze skyward. It felt like the most impossible thing on earth.

This is the story I always share to set the stage. I was about two months into my yoga practice and newly 100% addicted to hot yoga when I attended a class with a teacher who had become my favorite. I was finally reaching the point where I kind of felt like I knew what was going on and felt I was making some progress with the whole yoga thing. I was learning the names of the poses, semi-executing them the way they were supposed to look and starting to build a little confidence in my practice. Until half moon came along. My teacher (who I loved and wanted to impress so badly) came over to assist me in half moon. As she tried to help keep me from flailing and falling in half moon, she bent down and whispered to me, “this is your first yoga class, isn’t it?” (in a really sweet and “I want to help you” way). I was a little devastated but determined to improve my practice and master half moon. To this day, she remains my favorite teacher and I always credit her as being the one who made me fall in love with yoga.

My half moon has come a long way. It’s now one of my favorite poses and I am even able to do advanced variations of it now. What I love about half moon (and yoga in general) is that there’s always somewhere new and deeper to take it. The cartwheel variation that I’m performing in the photo above took me for-ev-er to get down. I still remember the class I was in where the teacher cued us to reach down, grab our forearm and pull our chest through our shoulders. I fell for the first three months I tried to do this but slowly worked my way into being able to do it and practice this variation in nearly every class.

Half moon feels like one of those poses that makes you feel like a legit yogi. It’s such a big and expansive pose. When I reach my full expression, I always feel a rush of energy and freedom. I love the openings that it provides in so many areas…hamstrings, hips, side body and even upper backbending as you rotate your chest toward the ceiling.

This bound variation has become my favorite half moon. It feels amazing to kick your hand and foot away from you and get a huge opening in the hip flexor and quad. I also feel like I can really roll my shoulder back and get my chest open in this variation. Rotating my shoulders back and getting chest up is something I struggle with in a lot of poses.

So that’s the story of my half moon. I really appreciate being continually humbled by my yoga practice and the way that it challenges me. Seeing my body change and adapt along with my practice is really powerful. I always comment to my yoga friends and students that I wonder what my body (and mind) felt like before yoga. I can’t imagine not practicing now. The moving, breathing, stretching, opening has become something that I need on a deep emotional and physical level.

Now, I would love to teach you guys how to half moon…which leads me to some exciting news. I have shared before that I want to focus the blog a little more on fitness and yoga. Moving forward, my goal is to theme Fridays around fitness and Mondays around yoga. You can expect a lot more video content, workouts, yoga sequences, topics about things like breaking into the fitness industry and how to find a teacher training program for yoga, etc. I’m really, really, really excited about this and hope you are too!

Do you or did you have a “nemesis” yoga pose? 

Any topic requests that I can add to the editorial calendar for Fitness Fridays or Yoga Mondays? 


{ 58 comments… add one }
  • Jenna January 10, 2013, 4:00 pm

    I would love to see some posts about some of the more difficult arm balancing poses such as eight angle pose. I practice yoga infrequently but one of the things i love is to take some time and pick a pose and really work at it. I LOVE your blog-you are inspirational in so many ways!

  • Courtney January 10, 2013, 4:01 pm

    I love to hate Half Moon Pose, haha! I like it on days that I can get it, but get easily frustrated on days when my balance is off. The poses I have the most trouble with are twisting poses and especially ones where the focus is on the thoracic area. I injured my back in 2011 and had to go to PT, etc. I have to be careful with those, so it’s a good practice in not comparing yourself to others! Ha!

  • Allison S. January 10, 2013, 4:04 pm

    Half Moon has definitely been a challenge for me since starting my yoga practice (I’m about 1.5 years in). There are some days where I feel so graceful and strong (and nail the pose), but other days I feel like Bambie walking on ice (arms and legs everywhere). I guess the good thing is that even on the days I have a “bad” practice, I just tell myself that it’s ok and go easy on myself. Thankfully, “bad” practices are few and far between.

  • Carrie @ Fitness and Frozen Grapes January 10, 2013, 4:09 pm

    Half Moon is such a challenging pose! When I first got into yoga about three years ago, I practiced five days a week and slowly learned to hold Half Moon semi-decently. Today, though, I do yoga once a week, so the posture has become tough again!

  • Pam January 10, 2013, 4:19 pm

    Love love love this post!
    Half moon is a challenge for me as we’ll but I’m really working on arm balances now!
    Crane is causing me to loose focus and breath. Really trying to stay calm and centered.
    Looking forward to yoga Monday’s!

  • Tori January 10, 2013, 4:23 pm

    I wouldn’t say that I am experienced or have fully committed to yoga-though I want to, there are no yoga classes or studios in my small town:(- but I am super excited for your Friday and Monday posts! I have the hardest time with half moon. I’m working on yoga and my flexibility..sometimes it’s discouraging but I’m determined to get better 🙂

  • Lindsey January 10, 2013, 4:30 pm

    I know yoga is a great way to stretch, however…

    I’d love to learn lots of post workout stretches. For example, after a tough workout on the treadmill at the gym, I grab my ankles for a good quad stretch, do some neck rolls and that’s where it ends. I’d love to stretch deeper in the limited space at the gym. There really is no area designated for stretching unfortunately.

    Help!!! 🙂

  • Stephanie January 10, 2013, 4:39 pm

    I’d love for you to write entry on how to get in a good strength training work out by using body weight and a pair of dumbbells. I am a mother to a 7 month old infant, I work full time and i am training for multiple marathons. prior to my daughter being born, I had plenty of time to run AND lift, but now strength training & core are lacking. I just don’t have the time and my #1 love is running. I wake up at 4am, sometimes earlier, to run before work. This way, I can spend my evenings with my baby.

    • Jen January 10, 2013, 5:02 pm

      all over that! you are high on the list!

  • Linda January 10, 2013, 4:44 pm

    We are so lucky here in Charlotte with this absolutely beautiful weather!! I’m with ya….can’t wait to go take a run!!
    Yoga question; I’m really trying to incorporate a yoga class a week into my workouts. That said, I have an issue with my left forearm and am going to PT to try and resolve it. So, I can’t do any upper body work or weight bearing exercise right now. What yoga class do you think would work best for me? I love power mixed but I’m thinking that may not be the right one.

  • Michelle January 10, 2013, 4:55 pm

    “This is your first yoga class, isn’t it?”

    She actually said that to you? I have a hard time not finding that … judgmental. It reminds me of the class I once took where the instructor said in the middle of a tough inversion: “How much effort you put into it is entirely up to you,” which seemed directed at the 3-4 students who were struggling and had less than perfect form (but were, in fact, putting LOTS of effort into it).

    I had a wonderful yoga instructor in Raleigh, whose every word and breath was constructive, soothing and supportive, so maybe I’m wound a little tight about what comes out of instructors’ mouths. Nonetheless, it seems as though they could choose their words more carefully and make fewer assumptions. Each person’s yoga practice is their own; the classroom is no place for judgment.

    • Jen January 10, 2013, 4:59 pm

      She said it in a very sweet and caring way. It was not condescending in the least bit! She has such a nurturing and loving personality and is absolutely wonderful with newbies! 🙂

  • Sheena January 10, 2013, 5:11 pm

    My nemesis is humble warrior. I can do a bunch of arm balances and inversions, but I want to hurl the second a teacher cues the set up for humble warrior 😛

  • Kim January 10, 2013, 5:11 pm

    Super excited for the theme days Jen! Thanks for all the time and energy you put into this blog!

  • Katherine January 10, 2013, 5:35 pm

    Whoa, girl! Those yoga pictures are awesome 🙂


  • Addy @ Six-Kick Switch January 10, 2013, 5:38 pm

    Yay, yay, yay!!! I’m so happy you’ll be featuring some yoga how-to’s. Like you, I can’t imagine not having it! I would definitely say hips, hip openers, etc., are my sticking spot. My hips are just not flexible! I would love to learn more arm balances too.

  • Jess January 10, 2013, 5:40 pm

    I am another person who is amazed that the teacher actually said that to you – it seems really patronising to me and I would not have gone back to that class!

    What I really like about yoga is that it’s a great leveller (for the most part) – there’s always a certain pose, or type of pose, that someone will find challenging. For example, I could do half moon and the variations you’ve shown from my first class, but years later I still cannot even come close to doing either a handstand, headstand or crow pose (crow pose is definitely my ultimate nemesis) despite it being so simple. It’s hard, but humbling, when people come in and just ‘do’ crow pose without even trying. I am still really frustrated with myself over it…it would be so nice to move on to the side variations one day! Headstand would also be so freeing, so liberating…I imagine if I could ever do it then I’d hang out in that pose all day.

    Can’t wait for the rest of your yoga series 🙂

  • Holly January 10, 2013, 5:40 pm

    There are so many… but the one that comes up in class a lot which I hate is that standing split.

    I used to hate half moon and I still use a block, but I’ve become much happier/better at it. I don’t hate it anymore. The block lets me open my hip better. I am working on getting to a point of no block (done that a few times) and also to the point of looking up.

  • Julia January 10, 2013, 5:43 pm

    Twisting prayer-my hip always hurts after from the pressure of my elbow/upper body. I find that the variations of the pose, such as opening my arms (floor to sky) or binding underneath the body, puts less tension on my hip.

    Do you ever experience hip pain from yoga? I have transitioned from distance running to 4-5 days a week of hot vinyasa and while I find it to be way easier on my knees, I still get hip pain. Any tips other than foam rolling and pigeon pose (my favorite!)?

  • Hayley @ Running on Pumpkin January 10, 2013, 6:33 pm

    Oh my gosh, 70 and sunny sounds like a dream come true. As soon as spring kicks in I am going to be running outside like it’s my job!!

  • Kristy@RunTheLongRoad January 10, 2013, 7:00 pm

    my nemesis pose is the half moon! it frightens me the way that first back handspring (without a spot!) used to frighten me (i know you were a cheerleader so you can relate 😉 ).

  • Jillian January 10, 2013, 7:24 pm

    I am new to yoga so pretty much everything is tough right now. I recently started a desk job where I am sitting all day and it feels so good to stretch, I can’t wait to get better at it 🙂

  • Colleen B. January 10, 2013, 7:29 pm

    What a beautiful half moon and beautiful post!

    I love working on my balancing poses but cannot do a camel pose for the life of me….every time I start to lean back I feel dizziness and nausea coming on.

  • She Rocks Fitness January 10, 2013, 7:45 pm

    I LOVE bound half moon pose! I always feel so strong, open, and balanced. I feel so powerful. 🙂 My nemesis pose would have to be revolved half moon and sometimes reverse triangle (depending on how tight my hamstrings are.)! So glad you were able to run outside. I did too and it felt awesome to not run in a hat and gloves. 😉

  • Sarah N January 10, 2013, 7:47 pm

    Beautiful half-moons there–I’m inspired! =) They are definitely one of the main ones I struggle with, along with warrior 3. My balance just sucks.

    I’m excited for your fitness posts! Especially yoga–my teacher is having to take the whole month of February off and I am going to feel so lost! Something I can do at home is going to be a must.

  • Kristi Healey January 10, 2013, 8:12 pm

    I love half moon too! One of my favorites – also triangle. splits are my nemesis. Feel like my eyes are bleeding, even with a block under my thigh. : )

  • pamela January 10, 2013, 8:22 pm

    Beautiful ardichandrasana! That is a pose I have always loved, but I have my nemesis poses. Airplane pose just kills me. I cannot stay in it!!! Funny as it’s almost the opposite of ardichandrasana.

    I love what Baron Baptiste says – whatever blocks the path is the path.

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful path into half moon. Can’t wait for the videos!!! Can you do one on jumping up from downdog to the front of the mat. I should be able to do it but again – nemesis pose!!!! xoxo

    • Emily January 11, 2013, 2:39 am

      I love that quote – thanks for sharing it 🙂

  • Paige @ The Balancing Act January 10, 2013, 8:27 pm

    Haha I’ve actually always loved half moon! Naturally (i.e., without working out regularly) I have very little athletic ability, but balance has always been one of my stronger suits.

    Anything involving a ton of hamstring flexibility is a different story! When I started yoga in the 7th grade, I couldn’t even touch my toes. Eventually I could, but 3-legged dog, standing split, etc. have always killed me nonetheless.

    Your blog makes me so excited for when I can finally get back to my normal workout routine (on a hiatus right now due to injuries/health issues and can only do a little bit of Pilates). I miss it soooo much! I’m starting to remember what my body felt like before I started working out–it’s not too fun!

  • RACHEL January 10, 2013, 8:57 pm

    Awesome post Jen!!!!!

  • Erin January 10, 2013, 9:13 pm

    Head stand!!!

  • Julie January 10, 2013, 9:15 pm

    Actually love half moon! I too can not imagine how my body and mind felt pre yoga! My nemesis pose is crow…I was wonderfully taught to get into crow with my head on a block, my feet are raised and I am comfortable but can’t seem to get into it without the block! Would love a video tutorial! I always look forward to your posts, thank you!

  • Amber January 10, 2013, 9:37 pm

    For some reason, I cannot flip my dog. Wheel was my nemesis pose for a long time, but I’ve worked hard at it and can finally hold it (9 times out of 10)!

    I’m looking forward to the yoga series!

  • elizabeth January 10, 2013, 10:09 pm

    Not sure what my “nemesis” pose is, I’m sure there are a lot of things I can’t do, but I just try to do the best I can at the moment and it still feels amazing. I only do yoga at home, tonight I did “The Pursuit of Happy Hips” with Eoin Finn for the first time and my hips feel good and loose!

  • sophie January 10, 2013, 11:16 pm

    The hardest pose for me is actually tree pose on my left. After tearing my hamstring the other year, my balance is not so great on that side, and you can really tell when I do tree.

    Of course, horse pose is the pose that just kills me. Is it harder for runners for some reason? In any case, I get wiped out in that one!

    Beautiful yoga pictures — keep them coming.

  • Nicole January 11, 2013, 1:12 am

    It really interesting how everyone has a different nemesis pose in yoga! Half moon always came really easy to me and I can do it without touching the ground BUT no matter how often I try wheel I can only stay up for a few breaths. I would LOVE to be able to backbend like you in that ashtanga video you did awhile back…maybe you have some suggestions on how to loosen up the lower back? Oh and tripod headstand, I don’t ever foresee my legs going up! I am so excited about these new yoga posts I am seriously considering enrolling in teacher training!

  • Emily January 11, 2013, 2:44 am

    I look forward to the yoga sequences and videos in particular. I’ve practiced for a few years, but this year I’ve committed to getting better in form with specific poses. I’m starting with bound lotus, which I’m slowly working at whilst listening to music in the evenings.

  • Chris January 11, 2013, 7:33 am

    Oh yes, for me the toughest pose has been upward bow. My upper back simply did not want to bend and allow my chest to open. It felt like all my muscles were frozen in the effort to push upward. I would lie in bed and visualize being in the pose…well finally last week I did it! No props, just me in upward bow. I only managed to hold it for a few seconds but what a rush of joy!

    I love your plan for the blog! Looking forward to more yoga talk 🙂

  • Chris K January 11, 2013, 7:37 am

    Revolved triangle is my nemesis from hell. My ass hangs out, I can’t breathe and suffocate, my muscles burn burn burn, and I always sense some type of panic. Revolved triangle, I will defeat you!

  • Betsy January 11, 2013, 8:14 am

    I have super tight hips from running, so pigeon is always tough for me. Any tips on keeping my front leg perpendicular would be very helpful!!

  • Katie January 11, 2013, 8:27 am

    One word: Crow

  • Lee January 11, 2013, 8:31 am

    I would love to learn some more yoga stuff. Do you have recommendations for people that are not flexible at all? I know that you’re supposed to just do what you can, but I can’t even come close to touching my toes!

    Also, this is a random thing to comment on, but I couldn’t help but notice how black Sullie’s nose is. Murphy’s nose used to look like that and then it turned pinkish. So weird!

  • Laura January 11, 2013, 8:39 am

    I’ll get you one day, crow pose. For now, I’ll suffer through the bruise on my forehead from my last attempt. Would love to see some instruction on getting into inversions and arm balances! Always want to try them in class but not sure the proper technique. LOVE all the yoga talk around here.

  • jennifer January 11, 2013, 9:02 am

    HALF MOON. I haven’t been practicing too long … 1 year / multiple classes per week … but something just hasn’t clicked for me with half moon. I have pretty good balance, but there is something about opening up and stacking my hips that just hasn’t happened for me. Would love some tips. Looking forward to your videos!!

  • Tara | Treble in the Kitchen January 11, 2013, 9:17 am

    I am so excited ! I can’t wait to see your videos 🙂

  • Lauren K January 11, 2013, 10:26 am

    Love these ideas and I will continue to pick your brain on Tuesday nights! I don’t know that arm balances are my nemesis from a strength standpoint, but I want to practice them over the next few months to get better at the hold. Also would like to go further into camel…and be more graceful with half moon. Looks like I have plenty to work on!

  • Julie M January 11, 2013, 10:35 am

    What a wonderful post – thanks for sharing! I would really like to see a yoga flow you would recommend for after running.

  • MANDY January 11, 2013, 12:21 pm

    Me and my friend signed up for your Hot Yoga class on Sunday. I’m nervous, I’ve never done hot yoga before and have only done a few other beginner yoga classes. BUT i’m excited, one of my goals in the New Year is going to Yoga once a week! See you Sunday!

  • Anne January 11, 2013, 12:55 pm

    Very happy to hear about the future yoga videos and posts !

  • Grace @ PracticingGrace January 11, 2013, 2:49 pm

    I’m excited about the direction of the blog!! I love half moon–I feel empowered in it

  • Lisa January 11, 2013, 4:12 pm

    I would love to see how to get started practicing yoga at home. I took yoga in college years ago and my husband and I took a few bikram classes but the heat was to much to handle. I work at a desk all day and I really need to incorporate stretching into my lifestyle.

  • Amy January 11, 2013, 5:00 pm

    Standing splits is my nemesis…I feel like my glute and hip completely lock up when my leg gets to a certain height. I also have trouble squaring off my hips in Warrior One. I never knew what cartwheel version of half moon was…thanks for the demo!

  • Lindsay January 11, 2013, 6:50 pm

    Hey Jen,

    I would love to be able to do a head stand! I just need to trust myself on my mat.

    Enjoy every ounce of that warm weather!! 🙂

  • Katie January 11, 2013, 9:10 pm

    I find Half Moon really challenging, but in a way that makes sense… I get what my body is doing, and I can make incremental progress in each class. The pose that’s completely unfathomable to me is Crow — how do your elbows get on your knees? how do they stay there? and I’m supposed to be able to lift my feet off the ground, how?!

  • Katie January 11, 2013, 9:14 pm

    *That should read, how do your knees get on your elbows…. I’m not that confused! 🙂

  • Kaitlyn January 11, 2013, 11:59 pm

    love your lululemon get up 😉 and thanks for the insightful post about yoga & this pose. im proud to say ive recently found myself achieving half moon pose withhhh the upward gaze after months and months of practice. now that you mention it, im realizing its probably one of my faves.

  • Sarah January 12, 2013, 6:13 pm

    Hi! Love this idea. Half moon gets me too once I try to look to the sky..wobble wobble. I would love some direction on handstands/headstands.. For never having done them I have no clue where to begin when playing around in class. Also, jump throughs in ashtanga and flying splits 🙂 I think you’ve got quite the list here to get you started! Looking forward to it!!

  • Amber January 13, 2013, 11:10 pm

    Definitely crow pose for me! I held it once for about five breaths and have never been able to do it again. I really want to master that pose! Hopefully one day.

    I LOVE half moon as well, and can do it with a block, however sometimes my bottom hip pinches in a really weird (and super painful) way when I go into it so I have to be really careful to move into it slowlyyyyyy! Can’t wait for your post on it!

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