Balasana - TINT Yoga

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Balasana Child´s Pose

    Quick Facts

  • Sanskrit (Original): Bālāsana
  • Etymology: Child (bāla), pose (āsana)
  • Fun Fact about the pose: Even though Child’s Pose is one of the most important resting poses in yoga, it was not found in ancient yoga texts and only described in the 20th century.
  • Asana Type: Forward Fold
  • Main length muscle groups: Quadratus lumborum, spinal extensors, glutes, muscles of the ankles
  • Main strength muscle groups: Tibialis anterior, vastus lateralis, muscles of the arms and hands (this only applies to a more active version of the pose as it is usually restorative and more passive)
  • Vinyasa Breath: Exhale

How to Cue the Pose: Step By Step

  • 1 Start in Tabletop Pose (Bharmanasana) kneeling down on all fours.
  • 2 Untuck your toes so that the tops of your feet are flat on the mat and move your hands about a hand-length forward.
  • 3Bring your knees wider than hip-width apart and your big toes touching each other. This way there is enough space for your belly to rest between your thighs.
  • 4Place your hands at least shoulder-width or even wider apart.
  • 5On an exhale, send your hips backwards and let them sink onto your heels.
  • 6Rest your forehead on the mat or on a prop keeping the neck long and relaxed.
  • 7At the same time, reach your hands forwards so that your spine is lengthening in two directions.
  • 8Keep your arms lifted away from the floor for more engagement. Alternatively, let your arms rest on the ground for even more relaxation.
  • 9From here you can imagine your heart melting down towards the mat.
  • 10Let your belly become completely soft and let your body sink deeper into the ground.
  • 11Stay in the pose for several long breaths or as long as you like to restore. Breathe fully into your belly and your chest.
  • 12Inhale to lift yourself up out of the pose either back into Tabletop Pose, directly into Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana or moving through a supine position into Cobra (Bhujangasana). Of course there are plenty of other transitions possible.

Working The Details: Alignment In The Pose

  • Work your foundations: Child’s Pose, or Child’s Resting Pose as it is also called, is usually a restorative yoga posture used to take a break in between powerful Vinyasa flows or other sequences. You can make it more active by pressing your foundation down into the floor. This is namely the tops of your feet, the front of your ankles, your shin bones, knees as well as your hands. Use about thirty percent of effort to activate the aforementioned parts. The activation will not only increase the stretch in your lower legs, feet and ankles, but also send more awareness to the outer hips instead of solely focusing on the release of the spine.
  • Focus on the breath: Balasana is a pose of rest. This is why it is typically held for several breaths at a time. Use this time to really tune into your breath, follow its rhythm and see where you can feel it in your body. You can follow the inflate and deflate of the diaphragm, the movement of your ribcage and the stretching of the tissue encompassing the kidneys.
  • Melting the heart: The archetype form of Balasana is a Forward Fold. However, as every Forward Fold also includes a tiny backbend, you can use the metaphor of ‘melting the heart’ to release your sternum towards the ground which will help you elongate the spine and move the thoracic spine more into the body.

Adapting The Pose Through Modifications

Simplify

  • Practice Balasana with your hands placed alongside your hips to curl yourself up even smaller and bring the spine more into flexion. Optionally, you can even close your knees to have your stomach resting on the thighs.
  • Use a block, a folded blanket or your stacked fists underneath your forehead if the floor is too far away to comfortably place your forehead down.
  • If your knees are hurting in Balasana you can place a thin and neatly folded blanket or towel into the back crease of your knees, right in between the back of your thighs and calves. Alternatively, you can practice Ananda Balasana (Happy Baby Pose) if Balasana is not accessible for you in this way.
  • For tight ankles you can either place a rolled towel underneath your ankles or you can elevate your knees by placing a folded blanket underneath them. This will give tight ankle joints the option to gently open up.
  • In case your hips are floating above your heels and have trouble sinking down, you can place a rolled-up blanket or even two blocks in between your heels and your sit bones. This will give your hips a resistance and point of reference to gradually sink down into.

Level Up

  • Elevate your spine by placing one block turned lengthwise below your sternum and one block turned crosswise below your forehead. This will give your sternum also a point of reference to release downwards.
  • GLift up your armpits by placing one block each crosswise below your armpits. They can then rest upon the blocks which adds a sense of stretching open the armpit area.
  • Work on a dynamic Child’s Pose by creating little wavelike ripples in the spine rolling up into flexion on every inhale and elongating into extension with every exhale.

Benefits of Balasana

  • The gesture of Balasana in itself says a lot about its benefits. It is a pose to draw the senses and the energy inwards and refocus yourself.
  • As all Forward Folds, Child’s Pose is calming for the mind and soothing for the central nervous systems. The latter is also the reason why you should always rest your forehead onto something – even if it means using a prop.
  • Child’s Pose offers a gentle stretch for the outer hips, thighs, knees and ankles. It also helps to release the spine, especially the lower back, shoulders and neck.
  • The pose releases fatigue, stress and tension. It can also help to relieve headaches.

Like probably all yoga practitioners I love Child’s Pose to take a break, refocus and recharge. It seems like my nervous system has somehow become conditioned to calm down when I hear the words ‘and now come into Child’s pose’ in a yoga practice.

Stephi

Content Manager at TINT | Passionate Yoga Teacher

FAQ: Common questions about this pose

Yes, as you will only be able to reap the full benefits of the pose with a supported forehead. It often happens that practitioners cannot touch the ground with the forehead but what matters most is that you are not too shy about using a prop. Another case is the Child’s Pose within a flow, where there is no time to arrange a prop. Here you could use your fists or one hand folded over the other for additional height. The reason for this recommendation is the relaxation of the brain, which will not happen when the forehead is floating. The slight pressure of the support under the forehead is mainly nudging the frontal brain, our rational, thinking brain, to quieten down. This in turn triggers the nervous system to down-regulate as well, leading to a state of calm and quietness.

Basically, all these variations of leg and arm alignment are two sides of the same coin. Depending on the outcome, you can choose to practice Balasana with open knees and arms stretched out forward or with closed knees and arms sent backwards. There is no right or wrong way of practicing, just a choice of which variation and modification of the pose to choose from. You can even practice Balasana with open knees and arms stretched back or vice versa. The first version is comfortable to elongate the spine a bit while you are in the deep flexion of the Forward Fold. The latter gives a bit more support for the belly on the closed knees and increases the flexion and curling inwards action of the spine. Choose whichever version you think is most suitable to your constant state and practice.

In both cases the best idea is to start with some support until the muscles around the hips have become a bit more supple. For the sit bones you can use a rolled blanket or two block placed between your heels and sit bones. For the frontal hip crease you can place a thin and neatly folded blanket or towel right up into the hip crease and then fold over it. The blanket acts like a little buffer zone to give more space in the area where the thigh bone, the frontal hip bone and the psoas muscle meet. You can also actively intensify the outward rotation of your thighs to allow the hip to sink deeper. To do this, grab your thighs at the hip crease and roll the fleshy parts out to the sides

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