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Restorative Yoga Poses: Supported Child’s Pose (Balasana)

June 28, 2011

The following is part of a series on Restorative Poses. Over the next weeks I will be posting some sketches highlighting restorative poses you can do at home. Each sketch will focus on a pose, action, or sensation. Please leave any questions below!

Balasana, aka Child’s Pose

Child’s Pose, or Balasana, is many yoga student’s favorite pose. Balasana may start a yoga practice session or close it. Or it may just be a welcome break or pause in a vigorous flow. For some students, however, Balasana is not comfortable. For these students, child’s pose can actually a source of frustration and stress. While everyone else is blissed out, they feel pain in their ankles, knees, hips, neck, you name it. If you find Balasana uncomfortable or even painful take note!  This supported variation can give even the most cranky bodies a chance to delight in Balasana.

Child’s Pose Benefits

Child’s pose naturally brings the body into fetal position. It is soothing and comforting. Think of a baby being cradled and rocked over its mother’s arm.

In this position the limbs protect the soft abdominal and pelvic organs. The back of the heart, the kidneys, and the sacrum are gently opened as they are exposed to the sky.

The posture allows you to feel the breath in the back body. We normally live in the front body–our eyes and line of sight propels us forward. We are on constant alert to protect our vulnerable organs from “attack” in front of us.

Child’s pose allows us to settle into the back body. Your attention shifts and you feel grounded.

The gentle cradling of the abdominal cavity allows the abdominal organs to soften, supporting digestion. The kidneys gently open.When done correctly (i.e. hips well supported) the low back releases. The groundedness of this pose can also help calm anxiety, stress, and scattered minds.

How to set up the pose

Traditionally, the instruction for regular Balasana  is to come to hands and knees, uncurl your toes, bring the big toes together and bring the hips back towards the heels.

In this restorative version, first build up a support with (firm) blankets or a bolster. If blankets aren’t available, try firm pillows or lots of firm towels. I usually tell students to start with a support that is higher than you might think. You can always lower the support height.

Then place the knees to either side of the support, set your hips down on the support, and reach your belly over the length of your support. Rest your forearms on the floor along the support. Place your head so you neck is most comfortable (for example, place your forehead on the support or turn your head to one side.)

Tips and Hints:

  • Make sure your hips are entirely on the support and not floating in the air. Well-supported hips = happy low-back.
  • If your knees feel compressed (especially if child’s pose is usually uncomfortable for you): try adding more height to your support. 
  • If your knees or forearms don’t comfortably rest on the floor: place a blanket or pillow beneath them.
  • If your ankles are uncomfortable: place a rolled up towel between the floor and the tops of each ankle.
  • If your neck is cranky and uncomfortable : try placing a small pillow or folded towel or blanket beneath your head. Also, try turning your head to one side and resting on your cheek.

Close your eyes if this is comfortable. Allow the skin of your face to relax.

Let the entire weight of your body drop into the support. Especially feel the support under your pelvis/hips, under your heart, and under your head.

As your weight settles into the bolster, blanket, and floor, watch your breath. See if you can observe the inhales expand the back body. Work your way down your back. Inhaling into the back of your heart, the back of your ribs, the backs of your kidneys, the lower back, and finally into the sacrum.

Turn your head to the other side half way through.

Stay as long as you feel comfortable sweetness.

To come out of the pose

As always, move slowly. First bringing awareness through the feet, legs, and hips. Then become aware of the low back, mid back, shoulders, arms and  hands. Find the ground beneath your hands and gently press up to seated.

Slide off the support and sit quietly for a few moments, allowing your body to adjust to gravity.

Smile.

Disclaimer: Consult with your doctor before trying these postures or those of any  exercise program. Yoga In The Sky, this website, and its contributors are not responsible for any injury, pain, or harm that may result from the information contained herein. You are responsible for your own health.

Please use common sense. Pain is NEVER good.

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