Sit on your knees, lower your forehead to your mat, walk your finger tips forward, and send your weight into your heels. Voilà, you’re in child’s pose. The magic of this asana is in its simplicity, which is why I always feel so dumb when I can’t do it right. No matter how hard I press, my butt kind of just hovers above my heels. And all that pushing diminishes the bliss.
Turns out, you can make a tiny tweak to really sink into balasana: 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?”
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.”
And 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.”
Welp, yoga just got much more relaxing. Here’s to embracing an imperfectly perfect child’s pose.
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