This is an in-depth guide to Child’s Pose. In this guide we will explore the foundation of the posture as well as deepen our understanding of the sanskrit, benefits and modifications this pose has to offer.
The Source Yoga + Wellness | November, 2019
What is child’s pose?
Child’s Pose is a foundational, grounding posture in yoga. It is performed by bringing your knees out wide with your big toes touching. Next, press your hips towards your heels, reach your arms forward, lowering your chest and place your forehead on the ground. Take a few breaths feeling grounded and present in your practice.
An In-Depth Look
Child’s Pose is a posture that will vary depending on who you talk to. Whether it is a discussion of how to place your knees or where to place your arms, it seems just about every person will teach, do and think about child’s pose in their own way.
And that is perfectly okay.
In fact, that is arguably what yoga is all about – giving yourself the freedom to experience your practice how you choose to experience it. There is no one way to do any posture.
What follows is a collection of thoughts on Child’s Pose that we have been teaching at The Source Yoga + Wellness for years. We hope it guides you deeper to your true self.
The intention of this posture is to ground down and go within.
This pose is an invitation to be still and an opportunity to connect to your breath, your heartbeat, and your mind. This is why it is often chosen as a resting point throughout a vinyasa practice.
Physically, as you rest your body in this posture, energetically you rest your mind in the moment.
How to do child’s pose?
- Start in a tabletop with your hands and knees on the ground.
- Separate you knees wide and bring your big toes to touch.
- Sit your hips back towards your heels.
- Reach your arms long in front of you.
- Rest your forehead to your mat.
- Relax your shoulders and breathe.
- Remain for one to five minutes with even breathing.
As you bring your knees out wide, your hips externally rotate. You will feel this in your piriformis, psoas and gluteals – giving release to the sacral region.
As you sit your hips toward your heels, the muscles in your legs lengthen. You will feel this in your quadriceps, front shin (tibialis anterior), and the top of your feet.
As you soften your chest towards your mat, the muscles in your shoulders open. You will feel this in your rhomboids, trapezius and deltoids – creating space between your shoulder blades.
What needs to be open?
Hips and shoulders.
Child’s Pose is a restorative posture that is often seen at the start of classes and many times even the first posture you find in a sequence. This is because the grounding nature of child’s pose allows you to arrive fully into your practice and let go of whatever came before you found your mat.
Poses to prepare
Listed below are postures to help prepare for child’s pose.
- Child’s pose can be the first posture in your sequence.
- Hero’s Pose (Vīrāsana)
Poses to Follow
Listed below are peak postures child’s pose helps you prepare for.
- Tortoise Pose (Kūrmāsana)
- Frog Pose (Bekāsana)
How to pronounce utthita balasana?
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Utthita Balāsana (UT-hita bal-AHS-anna) – उत्थित बल्असन
Extended Child’s Pose, or Utthita Balāsana – utthita meaning ‘extended’ and balāsana meaning to ‘to sit as a child’, holds the possibility for new beginnings and new arrival. As you arrive into this posture you are invited to let go of your day, let go of anything that has happened before this moment and open yourself up to the possibility of new life.
Just as a child comes into this world to experience everything for the first time, so are you encouraged to take the mindset of a child present with new experience with you throughout your practice.
What are the benefits of child’s pose?
Physically, child’s pose opens your hips and stretches your shoulders. Energetically, child’s pose is a grounding posture that cultivates a sense of security. Mentally, child’s pose allows you to center your focus in the present moment letting go of anything that happened prior to this posture. And spiritually, child’s pose allows you to go within and embrace yourself.
Child’s Pose is a great posture to open your hips, stretch your spine and massage your third eye. This pose brings suppleness to your legs and blood flow to all corners of your body. Massage your forehead on your mat to release pressure from headaches.
So much of our day is spent in activity – whether is is answering emails, running to the grocery store, or flipping the laundry, we are creatures of action. This pose allows you to slow down in order to connect with your breath and yourself.
Just as a child comes into new life with no expectations or experience, this pose invites you to let go of any mental holding patterns that you carry from your past in order to experience the present through the mind of a child – full of attention and wonder.
“If you do not go within, you go without.”
This pose is a spiritual opportunity to go within. As you physically come closer to yourself, this pose invites you to do the same on the spiritual level in order to better understand who it is you are.
Child’s pose directly balances your root chakra, or Muladahara Chakra. This posture is a space for you to ground down in to the Earth and feel safe. Along with your root chakra, as your head rests on the mat, your third eye activates – bringing insight and wisdom.
Child’s pose is great for all doshas. For Vata, this pose embraces stillness to balance the tendency to move. For Pitta, this pose clams the fire within. For Kapha, this pose stretches the spine and encourages stagnant fluid to move.
Modifications for child’s pose?
To modify Child’s Pose, use blocks or a stack of books and place them under your hips for elevation. Likewise, if your forehead does not comfortably connect to your mat, slide some blocks or books under your head for ease in your neck. Lastly, if your knees are sore, fold a towel and place it under your knees.
For more information on how to use props in your practice, visit our article here.
Child’s Pose is generally safe for pregnancy due to the wide formation of your knees creating space for the belly between the thighs and should feel really good. However, if there is the feeling of compressions, place blocks underneath your hips to elevate the stomach away from the Earth.
This pose is safe but challenging for children. Kids love movement – to convince them to be still in a posture is sometimes the hardest thing to do. Yet, this is exactly what kids need the most – a little time and space for self reflection. Try incorporate this posture in the middle of practice after the children have been moving for a while.
What are variations of child’s pose?
There are two most common variations of child’s pose. One is extended child’s pose which we have outlined thoroughly in this guide. The second variation is standard child’s pose. The difference in standard child’s pose is:
- Instead of bringing your knees wide, you bring your knees to touch and your stomach directly to your thighs.
- Instead of reaching your arms long in front of your forehead, you bring your arms by your sides with your palms face up around the region of your hips.
The reason we have explained the extended child’s pose variation in detail is due to the enhanced accessibility it offers over the standard child’s pose variation, particularly for women in pregnancy. However, many of the benefits remain the same for both variations.