Musings on Ardha Chandrasana
In considering the principals of alignment based yoga I am reminded of my recent experiences with Ardha Chandrasana,
Ardha Chandrasana is a posture I had been executing with relative success until 18 months ago. During my 200 hour YTT I was asked to maintain the outward rotation of the standing leg, plug the femur bone in to the hip socket and maintain Trikonasana alignment in that leg. 18 months later and my foot and leg still want to turn inward. 18 months later and I am still more likely to fall rather than balance in the posture. 18 months later and I am finally able to extend my arm towards the sky for a few breaths (sometimes).
Externally rotating the femur bone and maintaining that alignment of the standing leg leg has completely changed this pose for me. Sure, one way it has changed is that is much harder for me to maintain my balance. But why? The adjustment is seemingly minor. It seems simple. It isn't. I've had to look at why my foot turns in and why the balance is so much easier when it does. Is it just habit? Is it easier to cling to my Samskara rather than evolve? Does that inward turn make my base more stable? I doubt it.
Those are the the challenges of the change. What are the positives?
Other ways the asana has changed for me is that it is much stronger. As my distribution of weight has changed so has the strength I can gather in my standing leg. As my bones align the muscles are able to engage more fully. That strength more readily transfers from the foot to the leg, into the hips and out to the extended leg and heel. I can feel this energy course up my spine, into my skull and into my outstretched arms and fingers. Binding it all together is the breath. As soon as that stops the whole thing falls apart.
For now I will continue to refine this and all the other asanas that are integrated into my practices. I will bring my awareness to what works and where the stability is and break habits to find new insight. I will use that insight to push past fear and learn new postures well in order to preserve my joints and those of my students. Taking the time to get it "right", while potentially difficult, will elevate my practice and the practices of those I teach.