I hate and then love this sequence. Coming at the very beginning of the Bikram series it is very challenging, but by the time you have cycled through the whole thing (it’s multiple poses in one) you’re really ready for class to start.
For Half-Moon Pose, you want your feet together/touching. Reach up through your body from the pelvis. Arms up over your head hands in prayer with thumbs crossed. While lifting up you still want your shoulders down. In a straight line, stretch from your waist over to your right – creating a lovely half moon shape. The dialogue says you want to imagine that you are being pressed between two panes of glass. Basically, don’t collapse in to yourself just to get deeper. The alignment is more important than the depth. This same posture is repeated to the left.
You then come to the first backward bend of the series. The main thing here is to be brave. I am consistently amazed by how far I can actually go without falling over. The Hands-To-Feet pose that follows is your forward fold. Going from one to the other is not the easiest thing and I have felt dizzy so be careful. The idea is to elongate the spine outward through the crown of your head as you fold into the pose.
Don’t cheat – I see people twisting forward during half-moon pose, they separate their feet a little for the back bend. What’s the point? You’re only cheating yourself. I never understand competing in yoga class. Who are you competing with, exactly? Me? You aren’t fooling the teacher. It’s so strange. Ah well, deep breaths…
The series is a great stretch for shoulders, chest and spine. It helps with lower back stress and improves balance and coordination. Hands to feet pose stretches entire backside of body, especially ligaments of the legs (hamstrings) and lower back.