The word chapa refers to the sugarcane stalk that the goddess Lalita uses as her bow. Her arrows are flowers, and she has a half moon (ardha chandra) in her hair. For this reason, my teacher Douglas Brooks, PhD, a scholar of Hinduism and the comparative study of religions, named this pose (which is a variation of Ardha Chandrasana) Ardha Chandra Chapasana many years ago. The goddess who holds the bow (chapa) represents every emotional possibility—from pleasant and agreeable to fierce and formidable. Her intricacy is not unlike our own complex nature. Although she may seem sweet and demure with flower arrows and a sugarcane bow, her weapons become sharp and deadly when demons need slaying. Yogis can relate to this need for inner dichotomy: There are times to be pleasant and agreeable, and times to stand with ferocity and fight for what is right and moral.
When your hand has made a connection with the top of your right foot, hold firmly and swing your knee back behind you. To fully open the pose, kick your right foot into your hand as though you’re trying to straighten your leg. Without letting your right hip pop forward, draw your left buttock under. Be sure your bent (right) thigh stays in line with your torso so you do not overwork your outer or inner thigh muscles. Hold here for 3–5 breaths. To come out, release your foot and place your right hand on your hip, bend your standing leg, powerfully reach through your back leg, and place your right foot on the floor, returning to Parsvakonasana. Repeat on the other side.