Balasana posture derives its name from two Sanskrit phrases, ‘child’ and ‘comfortable, easy, seat.’ One of the most approachable yoga asanas for anyone at any level of yoga practice is Balasana. Bhagavan Patanjali once said, “a loosening of tension or effort allows the attention to merge with the Infinite within.” (Sutra 2.47).
Becoming Innocent and Untainted
Child’s Pose takes our attention away from the externalities of the world – our jobs, friendships, familial responsibilities, and a thousand other demands, and places it squarely on ourselves, but not the self we have come to define ourselves as in the material world, but the essence of who we are, which is innocent and untainted. When we curl up into a little ball and allow the spine to unfurl, our breath to expand, and the nervous system to calm itself, we can eventually rise from our child-like posture with a more mature perspective of the world around us.
How to Practice Child’s Pose?
To practice Child’s Pose, you can begin on all fours on your yoga mat, with your hands aligned beneath your shoulders and elbows, and your knees aligned beneath your hips, as in preparation to practice Cat Cow Breathing. Simply, start to sit back, so that the feet make a chair for the buttocks. The toes will roll inward, and the heels, roll out. Ideally, you will sit all the way back until buttocks are relaxed into the soles of the feet, and the crown of the head rests as well, allowing the spine to curve like a rainbow. You can gently tuck the pelvis underneath you to allow a further release along the spine and sacrum, but this should be done slowly, and as your body feels comfortable.
The arms can drape beside the body with the fingers gently curling up as they land near the feet. Or, the arms can reach forward in another variation, called Extended Child’s Pose, to allow a greater release in the pectoral muscles, latisimus dorsi, neck, upper and mid back, as well as the arms through to the fingertips.
Supporting Balasana with Blankets
Many beginning students will feel undue pressure on their knees when they begin. In this case, you can place a folded yoga blanket under both the knees, and also between the calves and thighs, in order to support the posture more completely and the practitioner can relax utterly into the posture.
Substitute for Balasana
Those with knee or hip issues can also sit back slowly, without allowing their hips to weigh down into the floor. If the spine is very tight, often either the hips or the head will touch the floor, but not at the same time. In this case, Rabbit Pose can be practiced in the interim to prepare for the full posture.
The desire to curl up into a ball, and close out the world is not necessarily a posture of defeat or subjugation, but of well-earned release from the demands of an ever-chaotic world. Balasana is the perfect posture to release the nervous tensions of the brain and body.