A lot of times prior to teaching students how to balance in half moon, I have them practice activating their feet. (Take a look at foot exercises!)
The reason for this is to create a stable foundation.
In a yoga pose like half moon, because the foundation is so small it can be very helpful to make it as stable as possible. That means learning to activate your foot and ankle. In half moon this can be a little bit challenging because the supporting foot is turned outwards relative to the pelvis.
However, you can counter this limitation by being aware of your hip joints and your pelvis.
Especially when first learning to balance on one foot, I'd suggest shifting your weight towards the front of your supporting foot so that your toes will naturally press down. In addition make the foot and ankle "strong" so that it is easier to stay balanced.
With the hand on the floor it can be easy to relax the foot. If you wish to lift the hand, I'd suggest stabilizing the foot first. Press the toes down and restablize foot and ankle, then lift your hand. When standing up from the pose, try to keep your weight towards the front of your foot so that your toes continue to press down even as you return to upright.
First turn your right foot out 90 degrees.
Shift weight onto your right foot and as you do so activate the foot and ankle. Shift far enough to the right so that your toes press down. Then lift your left foot.
To begin with lift the left foot an inch (or a few centimeters) and hold while staying balanced.
Turn your pelvis so that it faces the front. Then, to lift your left leg higher focus on lifting the left side of your pelvis.
If you find that your leg is wobbly despite your feet and ankles being strong, focus on keeping your knee and shin pointing to the side (in the same direction as your foot) and push your inner thigh forwards (in the same direction as your foot is pointing.)
Do this while keeping your foot stable.
Try to roll the left side of your pelvis backwards so that your pelvis faces the front. To do this try using the outer hip muscles of your right (supporting) leg. Then try to lift your left leg higher. Initially try to get it horizontal and then see if your can lift it higher by using the outer hip muscles of your left leg.
To touch your hand to the floor you may find it helps to bend your knee a little. You may also find it helpful, at least initially to use a yoga block.
Once you touch your hand to the floor you can work at gradually straightening your knee.
If using a yoga block, see if you can gradually reduce the height of the block (turn it) till you can touch your hand to the floor.
Once your hand is on the floor and you are in half moon yoga pose you can practice shifting your weight.
You can repeat the exercises as follows.
After a few repetitions see if you can stand slowly and smoothly, in full control.
Note that this pose can be a little more challenging if you look up as opposed to down.
Another exercise is to try closing your eyes. I like to close the eyes for a second (focusing on feeling the foot) the open. Then I repeat, gradually extending the length of time I keep the eyes closed.
Another challenge is to bend the elbow of the supporting arm and try to move the side of the ribcage towards the standing thigh.
Friction and pressure are two simple techniques that I use to help my students get stronger and more flexible. These simple techniques also offer a roadway into not only learning how to activate your muscles, but getting a feel for them and your body. Three challenging yoga poses that I use these techniques in are chaturanga, front splits and side splits. While they might not help you get all the way down into the splits, they'll help you feel stronger, and more integrated as you work towards them. And because I've got to pay for my daughters schooling this week, I'm offering a discount on the frictional muscle control videos. (First 100 people only can save over 30%).
Active stretching teaches you muscle control to not only improve flexibility but also body awareness. You'll learn how to adjust postures for better feel as well as more control through a broader range of motion.
Standing exercises for low back pain plus anatomy that can affect the low back and how to use that anatomical understanding.
Experience your body (and understand it) with sensational yoga poses.
Is it a bad idea to heel strike while barefoot running? What are the possible benefits of heel striking? When should you not heel strike?
These yoga poses for abs work on the abdominal muscles (and hips) in both standing positions and seated positions.
Sensational yoga poses, lessons to help you enjoy the experience of your body.
Here are the Ashtanga Standing Pose Vinyassas, with inhale movements highlighted in red.
These seated yoga poses have been organized into a rough routine and include lotus, virasana, janu sirsasana and marichyasana variations as well as more basic seated poses like bound angle, pigeon and seated forward bend.
In this preparation for compass pose use your arms to pull your leg towards you for a seated hamstring stretch. To modify, use a strap.
Single joint hip flexors include iliacus, pectineus, obturators, gemelli and gluteus minimus. Use them to help improve your forward bends.
Sensational Yoga ebooks and videos are designed to help you experience your body while focusing on specific poses, actions or parts of the body.
Extreme stability teaches you how to work from the ground up when creating stability, whether you are doing poses on your hands or your feet (or some combination of both).
The working towards wheel pose ebook teaches you basic body first so that you can feel and control your spine, hips and shoulders, so that working towards difficult poses (in this case wheel pose) is easier.
The Muscle control for better flexibility ebook teaches you simple muscle activation techniques that can make it easier to improve your flexibility. Techniques focus on forward and back bending the hips but can be applied to other movements also.
Building up on the material for part 1, Yoga for Beginners 2 teaches you how to make your body stable for a slightly different experience of your hips and shoulders.
Video: This set of simple hip control exercises help you to stabilize the hip joint and control it. You may find these exercises help you improve hamstring and hip flexor strength and flexibility.
One approach to learning yoga is to simply practice yoga poses. The approach in Yoga For Beginners 1 is to help you to learn to feel your body while doing yoga poses.
Some of the exercises in Balance Basics includes learning to balance on the fronts of your feet as well as on one foot using weight shifting exercises. It also includes exercises for crow pose. I've included videos based on the balanace exercises in the book on this page.