When practicing hatha yoga you learn to realize the balance between laboring and allowing for depth in your body. It is a good thing to challenge and push your body’s edge to find new sensation of opening and engagement. Sometimes, this is how you grow, change and heal your body. However, other times, when things don’t seem to be shifting as you challenge that edge, what your body needs is less push and more yielding.
What your body needs to be able to find opening is going to be different from day to day. What you are learning to do is listen to the language of the body and decipher what it is saying. The humbling part can be listening to what it is saying and actually respecting the place that it is each day. If you feel yourself struggling, holding your breath, grunting, getting dizzy, etc. try to notice these cues and see if doing a little bit less allows your body to expand into the shape.
In half moon pose there are some other ways to think about finding balance. Balance between ↑ and ↓, ← and →
This is a perfect pose to realize counteraction in the body. As you strengthen your legs and root your feet down, create a lift and buoyancy to the upper body. Sometimes I picture my body stretching out from the central point of my torso in opposite directions like Darth Maul’s light saber when he turns it on.
Also, as you push your hips to the left, reach in the opposite direction with your arms and upper body to the right. These opposing actions are what create beautiful length throughout the spine. When one of the directions becomes more focused upon than the others, there is an imbalance and the expansive, opening feeling of the posture is lost.
Balance between strength and flexibility
This is a perfect pose to realize the balance of strength and flexibility in your body. Sometimes it may seem that what you are trying for is to go deeper and deeper and deeper into the side bend. However, the proper form of the pose is maintained by using strength throughout the core of your body. Your legs should remain engaged toward the midline of your body. Then that strength can travel up through your pelvis and torso so that when you bring yourself into the depth of the pose, that support is there. It can be tempting to let your engagement go so that you can sink deeper, however this is not what the pose is about.
There are so many subtle details of this posture that you will hear the teacher guide you into. They are all important but what is most important is the way you go about putting those instructions into action. When putting them into action, ask yourself if you can more fully embody the idea of balance.