Child Pose (Balasana / Balakasana)
This pose is a gentle way of opening the back of the spine and giving the body a rest. It is therefore often used as a counter-pose to back bends such as the Cobra. Symbolically, it is a posture of humility, as we acknowledge and bow down to things that are bigger than us.
- Kneel on the floor with toes and knees together. If this is uncomfortable then allow the knees to separate slightly.
- Keeping the bottom onto your heels, lower your torso towards the floor and place your forehead onto the mat.
- Drop the arms by the sides of the body so that the hands will rest next to the feet or ankles with the palms turned upwards.
- To come out, slowly lift the torso up on a long inhalation.
- A wonderful way to open up the back of the spine, particularly behind the waist
- Stretches the muscles in the front of the legs: thighs, shins, ankles and feet
- Calms us down and helps to relieve stress
- The pressing of our thighs against our abdominal and chest area helps to stimulate the digestive organs and to strengthen our main breathing muscles (the diaphragm and the intercostals)
- Provides a gentle inversion, giving the heart a rest and sending a fresh supply of blood to our face and head
Precautions and Contra-indications
- Avoid this pose if pregnant, as it puts pressure in the abdominal area
- Be extra careful to avoid pressure on the knees if they are feeling sensitive – consider placing a blanket underneath the knees to support them
If the forehead does not reach the mat then, depending on how close it is to the mat, consider the following:
- Place the hands underneath the head and rest the head on the hands.
- Place some blocks or a blanket underneath the head or bottom or between your thighs and calves.
- Allow the bottom to lift off the heels slightly
Extended Child / Swan
Stretch the arms out on the floor with palms facing downwards in front of you, a bit wider than shoulder width apart.
If you wish, you can allow the bottom to lift off the heels, in which case lift the tail-bone up towards the ceiling to open up the spine with a gentle back-bend.