(Balasana): Techniques, Benefits, Variations

Level – Beginner

Child’s Pose

(Balasana)

Child’s Pose Prep & Practice

1

Beginning on hands and knees, keep knees together or bring big toes toward each other and knees apart. Sit back, bringing hips toward heels. On an exhalation, lay your torso on or between your thighs, head and arms resting onto your mat, face and palms down.

2

Hips extend back and down toward heels, low back rounds and belly releases. Chest rounds, upper back releases and shoulders soften away from the ears.

3

Breathe into your low back, softening, expanding and creating space. Bring elbows wide and fingers to touch, releasing and softening shoulders even more. Breath is steady, head is heavy, back of the neck long, gaze soft or eyes closed.

4

To come out of the pose, walk the hands in toward the body, sitting back in Hero Pose (Virasana) or Easy Seat (Sukhasana)

Variations/Modifications

  • Block under the head 
  • Block or blanket between heels and seat
  • Bolster to support and elevate upper body
  • Arms by sides, palms up or holding onto heels
  • Fingers spread, arms active

Physical, Mental and Emotional Benefits

  • Cooling
  • Draws awareness inward
  • Soothes the nervous system
  • Encourages breath in the back body
  • Opens the back gate of the heart
  • Releases glutes, hips, hamstrings and muscles around the knees

Contraindications

  • Knee or Hip Injury or Replacement
  • Foot or Ankle Injury or Sensitivity
  • Pregnancy (last trimester)
  • Significantly Low Blood Pressure

Thoughtful Sequencing

Child’s Pose (Balasana), Spread fingers and walk hands to top of mat, activating muscles of arms and hands. Walk hands to the right, pause for 3-5 breaths, walk hands to the left, pause 3-5 breaths, come back to center. Bring fingers to touch, elbows wide and rest.

A Few Notes

Child’s pose is widely known as a resting pose. The action of bowing to the earth and lowering the forehead and torso to the ground has a calming effect on the mind and the body. This can be a restful way to begin a yoga practice, especially first thing in the morning.

The easiest way to come into child’s pose is to kneel and sit on your heels, with your big toes together, and open your knees wider than your hips. This may already start to stretch your hips, thighs, and ankles. Then begin to stretch your arms forward, leaving your buttocks and tailbone heavy to the heels, lowering your chest, and forehead to the floor at the top of your yoga mat. Having the knees wide stretches the hips and thighs generously.

As this is a resting pose, you want to ensure your shoulders are as comfortable as possible, whether this is with your arms stretched out forwards to the top of your mat, finding length in the right side and left side of the torso, or with your hands reaching behind, towards the ankles, with your shoulders resting on top of your knees, allowing the shoulder blades to fully soften.

If you prefer to have the arms stretched out in front of you, have your palms facing downwards and grounded to the floor, however, if you prefer the arms by the sides of your legs, have your palms facing upwards, to allow a generous inwards rotation of the shoulders.

Ideally, you want to have your forehead on the floor, so that you can fully relax the neck, allowing the spine to release and relax too. When you are able to relax the weight of the head, you can release tension and neck pain and allow the breath to aid in finding length and space in the spine and the torso. If this is unattainable, you can use props such as a block, cushion, or even just your forearms.

If you suffer from lower back pain, child’s pose can help ease these symptoms.

However, child’s pose isn’t a deliciously, comfortable yoga pose for every person. There are a few modifications. If you get pain in the knees when trying to ground your buttocks to your feet, one way to ease this is to place a rolled-up blanket behind the backs of your knees, to decrease the angle at which they are bending. You can also adjust the position of the knees, by bringing them closer, adjust the position of the arms, or perhaps bending the elbows, and using props under the head if it doesn’t reach the floor.

In Yin yoga classes, you may stay in child’s pose for up to 5-10 minutes. One variation of child’s pose to make it even more comfortable is to straddle a bolster and rest your head and torso along the top. This gives you full support to let go and release the front and sides of the torso. This can be incredibly soothing, allowing the mind and body to be still, a bit like a cozy meditation.

In more yang styles of yoga classes, child’s pose may be used as a pause, a ‘break’, before continuing with a yoga flow.

Want more yoga pose tutorials? See more in my Yoga Pose Directory.

Variations/Modifications

  • Prop up sits bones if they don’t come to the floor
  • Use blanket to support front thigh (from hip to knee)
  • Use a block under the forehead
  • Use a bolster to support the torso and head
  • Reclined Pigeon (Ankle to Knee Pose)

Physical, Mental and Emotional Benefits

  • Relieves stagnation from hip joints
  • Quiets the mind and brings focus inward
  • Stretches piriformis, inner thigh and hip
  • Stimulates abdominal organs

Contraindications

  • Knee or Hip Injuries or Hip Replacements
  • Hamstring Injury
  • Sacroiliac Injury
  • Tight Hips (see modifications)

Thoughtful Sequencing

Child’s Pose (Balasana), Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana), One Legged Downward Facing Dog (Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana), Lizard Pose (Utthan Pristhasana) staying here for 3-5 breaths. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) to Pigeon (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana). Repeat other side, rest in Child’s Pose (Balasana).

You might also like: 5 Tips For Building Creative (And Safe) Yoga Sequences

Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)
Level – Intermediate

Pigeon Pose Prep & Practice

  1. Beginning on hands and knees or Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana). On an exhalation, Bring the right knee forward and right, toward the right edge of your mat behind the right wrist, angling right shin so that the right foot rest in front of the left knee.
  2. Right leg rotates externally from hip, outside of right shin and foot rest on mat. Foot relaxes in neutral or flexes (whichever feels better on the knee). Mindfully lengthen and extend the left leg toward back of mat so that front of thigh, knee and shin rest onto the mat (neutral or slight internal rotation).
  3. Torso is upright, gaze forward. On an inhalation, lengthen through the front, back and side bodies, exhale rooting down through front leg and right sits bones, outside of right buttock comes to rest on the mat. Gaze back at left leg to see if leg and foot are extending directly from the hip and not swiveled or sickled to the left. Hips yearn toward square.
  4. Inhale and lengthen torso finding even length on both sides, as you exhale release the upper body toward the floor, bending the arms allowing elbows to be wide and hands to rest one on top of the other. Forehead comes to rest on the mat or on the back of the hands.
  5. Breathe into the back body, releasing through the hips and pelvis. Spend some time here, using the breath to create space.
  6. To come out of the pose, lengthen the arms, spread the fingers and press down through the knuckles. On an inhalation press down through hands to lift the torso and mindfully come back to hands and knees or downward dog to prepare for the other side.

Variations/Modifications

  • Prop up sits bones if they don’t come to the floor
  • Use blanket to support front thigh (from hip to knee)
  • Use a block under the forehead
  • Use a bolster to support the torso and head
  • Reclined Pigeon (Ankle to Knee Pose)

Physical, Mental and Emotional Benefits

  • Relieves stagnation from hip joints
  • Quiets the mind and brings focus inward
  • Stretches piriformis, inner thigh and hip
  • Stimulates abdominal organs

Contraindications

  • Knee or Hip Injuries or Hip Replacements
  • Hamstring Injury
  • Sacroiliac Injury
  • Tight Hips (see modifications)

Thoughtful Sequencing

Child’s Pose (Balasana), Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana), One Legged Downward Facing Dog (Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana), Lizard Pose (Utthan Pristhasana) staying here for 3-5 breaths. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) to Pigeon (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana). Repeat other side, rest in Child’s Pose (Balasana).

You might also like: 5 Tips For Building Creative (And Safe) Yoga Sequences

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