After Pranayama Deep Breathing comes Ardha-Chandrasana, or Half Moon Pose. Half Moon pose serves a great purpose and was carefully selected to begin the Bikram Yoga class. Not only does it have its own benefits, but it rapidly warms up and loosens the body for the rest of your class. Bikram Yoga is about the sequence of postures so each posture readies you for the next. Bikram says the first set of Half Moon should exhaust you to the point of pure relaxation which makes the rest of the class easier as your muscles are not fighting the movements.
Half Moon pose gives so many wonderful gifts to your body. It increases flexibility of the spine while stretching and strengthening the core and shoulder muscles. The posture tones and slims the waist, butt, hips, and thighs through the contraction of the muscles. You compress and extend the abdomen on all sides promoting proper kidney function, helps cure enlarged liver and spleen, along with promoting digestive regularity and health. All of this while fixing poor posture. The backbend helps balance all of the leaning forward we do in daily life. Half Moon, especially the back bend, is extremely beneficial in relieving back pain and strengthening back muscles.
Immediately after Half Moon comes Pada-Hastasana, Hands to Feet Pose. Hands to Feet is often seen as the “fourth part of Half Moon” because there is no break between the postures. Hands to Feet balances Half Moon by working the lower half of the body directly after Half Moon works the top. It again increases flexibility and mobility of the spine. It stretches and increases flexibility of the sciatic nerve, most of the tendons, ligaments, and muscles in the legs. It tones and strengthens the rectus abdominus, gluteus maximus, oblique, deltoid, and trapezius muscles. All of this wonderful muscle stretching, strengthening, and toning while increasing the circulation of the legs and increasing blood flow to the brain. With a strong Half Moon and Hands to Feet Pose your body is ready for the rest of class.