One of the quintessential yoga postures, child's pose, is often taught in most modern yoga classes. Child's pose is translated from the Sanskrit word Balasana — "bala" means "childish" and "asana" means "pose."
And while that's the literal meaning, the spiritual meaning of this yoga pose has to do with the fact that children need nurturing and a safe place to rest their head.
Read on to learn more about how to do child's pose and its many benefits and variations.
Why does child's pose feel so good? Practicing child's pose is an effective way to potentially relieve lower back, shoulder, neck and head tension, according to the Illinois Pain & Spine Institute, because when you're in the pose, your body is in an extremely supported forward fold position down on the mat.
With this support, your muscles can relax. Additionally, this offers the opportunity to reduce tension in your face and jaw, providing a deeply calming experience for your entire body and nervous system.
Because your upper body is folded forward over bent knees, child's pose also helps to stretch the tops of your ankles and even provides a gentle compression in your abdomen that can help stimulate digestion, as LIVESTRONG.com has previously reported.
One of the more poignant elements of this pose is its ability to calm your nervous system by bringing in a body-wide sensation of peace and calm.
"While there are plenty of anatomical benefits to the pose, I most appreciate the more subtle qualities that child's pose offers," Meghan Hunter, RYT-500, a yoga instructor based in Maine, tells LIVESTRONG.com. "When sequencing a class, I often include this pose to encourage slowing down and more internal focus. It can also be a great shape to feel the broadening of the backside of the rib cage, and as a result, deep, spacious breaths into the lungs."
You can choose to close your eyes or maintain a soft gaze and focus on releasing as much tension as possible. As Hunter recommends, breathe slowly and deeply to activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which allows you to self-soothe during times of stress by feeling safe in your body and having clarity of mind.
For the most part, child’s pose is widely accessible for every body. However, it's not recommended for those who are pregnant because of the pressure it can put on the abdomen. Because there is also a fair amount of pressure on the lower body, it could potentially cause pain in the hips, knees or ankles. If you do experience any pain or extreme discomfort, exit the pose!
It's not uncommon to enter child's pose and find your hips don't go all the way down to your heels. If you can't sit on your heels in child's pose, it may be due to tension on your lower back and hips, as well as your lower body in general. To help, place a folded up blanket behind your knees to fill the gap for this modified child's pose.
While practicing child's pose, you may feel some pressure or discomfort in the neck when the forehead is all the way down on the floor. To reduce the pressure, bring the ground up to you by using a prop!
Some days, stretching your arms forward in child's pose doesn't feel quite right. If you have shoulder tension or just don't feel comfortable doing so, you can place your hands behind you instead, according to Jessica Fadale, RYT-200, a yoga instructor and owner of Portland Yoga Collective in Portland, Maine.
"I do a lot of rock climbing, so sometimes child's pose can make my shoulders feel cranky," Fadale tells LIVESTRONG.com. "To modify, I love to reach my arms behind me. This helps to relieve pinching or strain in the shoulders. For some extra self-love, I will grab my heels and even give myself a quick foot massage."
This child's pose variation isn't necessarily harder or easier than the others, it's just different. However, it will gently stretch the front of your chest more than the traditional form of child's pose, so you can decide what feels best for your body.2023-03-19T15:26:56Z dg43tfdfdgfd