Balasana (Child’s pose), is a restorative pose that is known for its calming, grounding, and relaxing effects. It gently stretches the lower back, hips, and thighs, while calming the mind and relieving stress. Not only is it a great way to take a break between more active poses, but practicing Child’s Pose can help improve your posture, reduce pain, and improve your overall health.
Meaning of the asana
Balasana is composed of two Sanskrit words “bala” which translates as child, and “asana,” which means pose or seat. Thus, it is commonly known “child’s pose.” The name comes from the fact that it is a pose that resembles a child in a resting position. Relaxing and breathing deeply in Balasana can provide a sense of calm and comfort, just like when a child rests in its mother’s arms.
1. From Table pose, exhale and lower the hips to the heels and forehead to the floor. Have the knees together or if more comfortable, spread the knees slightly apart.
2. The arms can be overhead with the palms on the floor, the palms or fists can be stacked under the forehead, or the arms can be along side the body with the palms up.
3. Breathe slowly and deeply, actively pressing the belly against the thighs on the inhale.
4. Breathe and hold for 4-12 breaths.
5. To release: place the palms under the shoulders and slowly inhale up to a seated position.
Benefits + Contraindications
Benefits: Child pose calms the body, mind and spirit and stimulates the third eye point. Child pose gently stretches the low back, massages and tones the abdominal organs, and stimulates digestion and elimination. It helps relieve back and neck pain and muscular tension. Mentally, this grounding pose is a great way to let go of worries, rest, relax, and rejuvenate to provide relief from stress, anxiety, and fatigue. Emotionally, this pose is a great way to connect with your inner child and foster a sense of calm, comfort, contentment, and safety.
Contraindications: Recent or chronic injury to the knees.
Modifications + Variations
Modifications: A) Place a blanket under the hips, knees and/or head. A yoga block can also be used under the head or hips. B) If pregnant, spread the knees wide apart to remove any pressure on the abdomen.
Variations: Open the knees wider to slide the arms between the legs reaching under the body and turn the head to the side.
Anatomy of the Asana
- Spine Extensors: The spine extensors are engaged and gently stretched during Child’s Pose, which can help to reduce tension and stiffness in the back and spine. This increases the range of motion in the spine and back, as well as improves posture.
- Neck and shoulders: This gentle stretch helps to relax and lengthen the neck and shoulder muscles. As the head releases down to the floor, the base of the neck is stretched, lengthening the spine and creating more space in the shoulder area. If the arms are stretched out over the head, this further stretches and releasing tension in the shoulders.
- Quadriceps: These four large muscles found on the front of the thighs are gently and passively stretched in Child’s Pose. Practicing this asana increases flexibility, reduces tightness, and improves overall mobility. This stretch can help with posture-related issues such as lower back pain and sciatica pain relief. Folding the torso forward over bent knees, adds additional pressure on the inner thighs, knees and ankles helps to further loosen and relax this muscle group.
- Shins and Ankles: Child’s Pose is a great way to stretch the shins and ankles, aiding in relieving stress from muscles in the lower legs. When practicing this pose, it is important to keep the feet flat on the floor, with the toes spread wide apart for optimal stretching of the entire lower leg, from the calves to the Achilles tendon.
Common mistakes and misalignments
One of the most common issues seen in Balasana is a lack of flexibility in the hips and back muscles, resulting in the buttocks not being able to reach the heels. The forehead might also not touch the floor if there is excess tension in the neck and shoulders. This can lead to an uncomfortable position that does not promote relaxation and rest.
Many people relax too deeply and forget to breathe deeply while practicing Child’s Pose. This limits the amount of oxygen that reaches the muscles and decreases oxygen flow throughout the body. Taking long, deep breaths during this pose will strengthen the diaphragm, improve digestion, and promote deep relaxation.
Another mistake is letting go of your focus and inner awareness. Balasana is an introspective pose that encourages you to draw your attention inward. Make sure each breath in this asana deepens your awareness and strengthens your connection to your inner self.
Child is a resting pose that can be used at any time, and is especially enjoyable after a challenging pose. s often used as a counter pose to strong backbends.
Use one or more of the following postures to build a sequence leading up to this pose: Down Dog, Up Dog, Cobra, Seated Yoga Mudra, Dog, Cat, Table.
Use one or more of the following postures to build a sequence ending after this pose: Table, Cobra, Hero, Supine Diamond.
This pose is also known as: Garbhasana / Embryo or Shashankasana / Hare pose.