Child’s Pose — Balasana is a simple beginner’s posture with a big part to play in your yoga practice. Aside from being a nice way to gently stretch various parts of your body, child’s pose is yoga’s most important resting posture. It’s a chance to stop what you are doing, reassess your position, reconnect with your breath, and prepare yourself to move forward.
The word "Balasana" comes from the Sanskrit words "bala" (meaning "child") and "asana" (meaning "pose"). In class, the teacher may offer the opportunity to rest in child’s pose after a fast-paced vinyasa sequence, a long hold in a pose like Downward Facing Dog or Plank, or an attempt at a challenging inversion. These are all examples of a good time to rest, but when to take child’s pose is really up to your own discretion.
That means you can move into this posture anytime you deem it necessary. It’s your time out, your get-out-of-jain-free card, your golden ticket. No teacher with any experience is going to stop you from doing child’s pose any time you want. That gives you a measure of power. Learning to use it wisely is the part of your developing practice where you listen to your body’s inner voice and do what it tells you. Your body will tell you when to rest. It might need different things on different days and that’s ok. Keeping your ear finely tuned to the messages your body is sending you and respectfully responding to them is the greater lesson that child’s pose has to offer.
Benefits of Childs Pose
Child’s Pose helps to stretch the hips, thighs, and ankles while reducing stress and fatigue. It gently relaxes the muscles on the front of the body while softly and passively stretching the muscles of the back torso. This resting pose centers, calms, and soothes the brain, making it a therapeutic posture for relieving stress. When performed with the head and torso supported, it can also help relieve back and neck pain. Sometimes used as a counter-pose to backbends, Child’s Pose restores balance and equanimity to the body.
Regular practice of Child’s Pose also teaches conscious exploration of the breath. As the front of the body releases onto the thighs, the frontal ribs and abdominal muscles become slightly compressed. This restriction allows for a deeper opening of the back of the torso as the lungs expand behind the body. As this happens, keeping the breath slow, long, and steady allows for a new awareness of the breath’s path through the front and back of the body.
Do not practice Child’s Pose if you have a current or recent knee injury. Women who are pregnant should only practice a wide-legged variation of the pose — do not press the belly on top of the thighs. Always work within your own range of limits and abilities. If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga.
How to Do Childs Pose (Balasana)
- Begin on your hands and knees. Center your breath, and begin to let your thoughts slow down. Turn your awareness inward.
- Spread your knees wide apart while keeping your big toes touching. Rest your buttocks on your heels.
- Those with very tight hips can keep their knees and thighs together.
- Sit up straight and lengthen your spine up through the crown of your head.
- On an exhalation, bow forward, draping your torso between your thighs. Your heart and chest should rest between or on top of your thighs. Allow your forehead to come to the floor.
- Keep your arms long and extended, palms facing down. Press back slightly with your hands to keep your buttocks in contact with your heels. Lengthen from your hips to your armpits, and then extend even further through your fingertips.
- For deeper relaxation, bring your arms back to rest alongside your thighs with your palms facing up. Completely relax your elbows.
- Let your upper back broaden. Soften and relax your lower back. Allow all tension in your shoulders, arms, and neck to drain away.
- Keep your gaze drawn inward with your eyes closed.
- Hold for up to a minute or longer, breathing softly.
- To release the pose, gently use your hands to walk your torso upright to sit back on your heels.
Use Child’s Pose throughout your practice whenever you need a break between poses or if you get out of breath. Return to the practice when you are ready. Breathe consciously and fully into the back of your torso. Imagine your back is doming toward the ceiling, allowing the spine to lengthen and widen. With each exhalation, release your front torso a little deeper into the pose.
Childs Pose for Beginners
Child’s Pose is one of the 4 Yoga Poses for Back Pain illustrated by our Yoga Expert. These four moves aim to develop spinal flexibility and strengthen the core and the spinal support muscles.
- Sometimes a rolled towel between the calf and back of the thigh makes this exercise more comfortable. If you have discomfort with the tops of your feet while performing it, place a pad there also. If you prefer, you can rest your forehead on a pillow, a pad or your hands.
- You can choose to keep the knees together instead of separating them if that is more comfortable for you. Likewise, you can curl the toes under if it is painful to have the feet flat.
Childs Pose for Advanced
To increase the length of the torso, stretch your arms forward. Lift your buttocks just slightly away from your heels. Reach the arms longer while you draw the shoulder blades down the back. Then without moving the hands, sit the buttocks down on the heels again.
- You can go for a more active version of the pose by engaging your arms when the are outstretched in front of you. Press into the palms a keep the arms straight with your elbows off the floor.
- In yoga, balasana is recommended for calming the brain and relieving stress. It is often used after doing a more challenging pose, including backbends.
Relax & Let Go
Child’s Pose is a simple way to calm your mind, slow your breath, and restore a feeling of peace and safety. Practicing the pose before bedtime can help to release the worries of the day. Practicing in the morning can you help transition from sleeping to waking. Regularly integrating Child’s Pose into your practice will create serenity and overall well-being both on and off the mat.