The benefits of child's pose
Child's pose is a foundational yoga pose that tends to be one of the final postures of any yoga practice. It offers a moment to decompress post-flow while simultaneously lengthening your spine, releasing tension in your lower back muscles, chest, hamstrings, and shoulders, and stretching out your thighs, hips, and ankles, says Vakkaru Maldives’ visiting practitioner, Raj Kumar. (FYI: Child's pose is even considered to be one of the best shoulder blade stretches for mobility and tension relief.)
Additionally, Kumar says that child’s pose lends to deeper full-body relaxation overall. “Along with deep breathing exercises, child’s pose can calm your mind, reducing anxiety and fatigue,” says Kumar. “Child’s pose can increase blood circulation to your head and the light compression on your stomach in this pose can activate digestion.”
Another way child's pose can benefit the body? It can help quell period pain.
And let us not forget: Child's pose is but one of many gentle yoga poses that make up a restorative practice. “Daily yoga stretching can benefit in the long run to maintain flexibility and focus on your overall health performance,” Kumar says.
The key to mastering child's pose
Turns out, you can make a tiny tweak to really sink into balasana (Sanskrit for child's pose): Stop worrying about it. We push ourselves in so many areas of our lives, and child's pose is about reaping the benefits of the work you've already done. Positioning your body in this manner is an intentional call for rest, reflection, and relaxation.
"A common cue is hips to heels, but it doesn't have to be that," says Beth Cooke, celebrity yoga instructor at Sky Ting. "I grew up as a dancer and still when I made it to my yoga mat I was super uncomfortable in the shapes because I was constantly thinking I wasn't doing it right. Isn't it so much cooler if you can just pay attention to what feels good and what doesn't?"
Common causes for child's pose discomfort
Cooke says the inability to sit on your heels is often due to injury, tight hips, a tight low back, or tight calves, among other causes. With time and practice, you'll be able to sit further back. Finding the ability to sit back deeply into child's pose measures the progress of everything else you’ve accomplished.
"This is why a common adjustment is to traction the hips back," says Cooke. "My hips didn't used to sit as far back as they do now."
Child’s pose variations
Sinking into child’s pose may be intended to be a simple yoga pose but it’s not for everyone. As such, there are child’s pose variations to make the pose more accessible for all.
If you have knee pain: while avoiding deep knee flexion is difficult in child’s pose, given it’s a kneeling posture, Kumar says that you can modify the movement by placing substantial padding under the shins to take pressure off the knees. The Manduka enlight™ rectangular bolster ($78) works well for this. If you don’t have a bolster, Kumar says that folding up a blanket and placing it under the shins works well, too.
If you’re pregnant or have difficulty folding forward: Child’s pose is typically performed with kneed hip-width apart. If you’re pregnant or have difficulty folding forward, adopting a wide-legged child pose is advisable, Kumar says. If you still have difficulty folding down to the point in which your forehead can touch the ground, Kumar recommends adding a bolster underneath your torso for support. Alternatively, you can place a foam block beneath where your forehead will land.
If you have difficulty pushing your hips back and down: As easy as some practitioners make it look, extending your hips down and back during child's pose isn't always an easy feat—and it can lead to lower back discomfort if done improperly. That said, if you find that you need additional support as you sink into child's pose, Kumar recommends reaching for a bolster or block. Placing it beneath your bum will offer added support and slowly teach your body to trust and adapt to the posture. (Psst: Since our bums are contoured, it can be helpful to use an arched block as opposed to a flat rectangular one. We like the Bala Balance Blocks, $49, and Manduka unBLOK Recycled Foam Yoga Block, $26.)
If you’re looking for a deeper stretch: If you love traditional child’s pose but are craving a deeper stretch, Kumar encourages you to try the child’s pose tricep stretch. To perform the gentle yoga pose, extend your arms out forward, bend at the elbow, and reach your hands behind your head, with your forehead still placed on the mat. Breathe in and out in the pranayama technique (i.e. measured breaths solely through your nose), holding the pose for 10 or more inhalations.
At the end of the day
While child's pose is a great way to get connected and take your attention inward, it's not for everyone.
"If child's pose doesn't feel good altogether, don't do it, start on your back instead," Cooke says. "There's a difference between uncomfortable and painful. If there's a little discomfort, that probably means you're growing, you're stretching—that's what we learn to breathe through. If it's painful, switch it up."
And just like that, yoga just got even more relaxing. Here's to embracing an imperfectly perfect child's pose.
Loading More Posts...