SIJ Injury & Yoga: Half Moon with Hands to Feet

[SI joint injury frequently intersects with other causes of low back pain, such as bulging discs, arthritis, and muscular strains; these guidelines are also appropriate for injuries to low back, pelvis, & hips.]
Previously: SI Joint Dysfunction IntroSI Joint Injury & Yoga practice, SI Joint & Yoga: Key Points

Next in this series, I’ll offer suggestions to manage individual postures.

My initial focus will be on postures in the Bikram series, because I teach this series & developed these guidelines to help my Bikram Yoga students.

I also use these same guidelines in my own personal practice – in managing my own SIJ injury!

If you are a student of other practices, not to worry – you may find help here as well. The general guidelines in earlier blogs apply nearly universally. Healthy movement is about more than just yoga styles.

 An asterisk (*) next to a posture indicates a strong recommendation to skip the posture, especially if the injury is in the acute stage and very painful.

In the Bikram Yoga beginning series, the first posture (after the first Pranayama breathing exercise) is Ardha Chandrasana with Pada Hastasana, in English called “Half Moon Pose, with Hands to Feet pose“.

It is, in fact, three postures in one – a connected set of postures, sometimes called a vinyasa – a stretch or bend to each side, a standing back bend, and a standing forward bend.

HALF MOON w *Hands to Feet: Take it easy. DO NOT TRY TO INCREASE FLEXIBILITY. Remember: flexibility is part of the problem – stability & strength are part of the solution.


half moon pose, credit: Silas Jackson

HALF MOON side bend
Don’t overdo. Keep weight firmly in heels. Do not try to create a deep side bend (which often leads to twisting and torquing the low back) – the goal is to have hips in one line AND to gently stretch each side. Stretch UP and then over. Focus on alignment, lengthening and strengthening, do not collapse.


standing backbend, credit:

Don’t overdo. Keep weight in heels, hips tight when pushing forward to strengthen muscles supporting pelvis & low back. Hips tight in the backbend allows the chest to open and thoracic spine to bend, reducing pressure on low back while strengthening muscles stabilizing SI joint.


hands to feet, credit:

(The model shown is an advanced practitioner, with a very flexible body type. Most practitioners will not, and should not, have straight legs in this posture – especially with a back injury!)

This is the first forward bend, body is not warmed up yet. If student is ready to try: NO GAP between upper and lower body. Forward bends – especially with straight legs and a gap between upper & lower body – destabilize the SI joint. Better to skip the posture than to have a gap. NO GAP NO GAP NO GAP.

You should always feel free to skip any and all forward bends! If your studio and/or teachers do not support you in skipping postures with this injury – RUN, do not walk, to the EXIT.

Further suggestions on Hands to Feet:

  • Keep chin up, look forward, stomach in and back flat, bend knees to put hands on floor for warm-up.
  • Student may need to slowly walk hands down thighs to reach the floor.
  • Moving the hips in warm-up should be gentle, even that side-to-side hip movement can cause pain in an acute SI joint injury.
  • Bend knees deeply to get stomach on thighs.

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