Balasana is another key pose in all yoga practices regardless of the style of yoga being performed. Balasana also called Child's Pose is one of the most common resting postures. Anytime during your practice, when you find it necessary to re-connect with your breath, you are invited to take Child's Pose. Please do not feel it necessary for your teacher to instruct you into the pose.
BENEFITS OF BALASANA:
- Gently stretches lower back, hips, thighs, knees, and ankles.
- Relaxes spine, shoulders, and neck.
- Calms the mind, reducing tension and stress.
- Alleviates headaches by increasing blood circulation to the head.
GETTING INTO BALASANA:
- From Table position, bring your knees and feet together and then sink your hips to your feet.
- Fold your torso over your thighs and rest your forehead on the floor.
- Rest your arms along your sides. Palms are face up near your feet.
- Completely relax your head and shoulders.
- If you feel tight, try separating your knees hip-width apart while big toes continue to touch. This will give you more space in your chest.
- If your hips don't reach your feet, you can place a rolled-up blanket, mat, or bolster between your heels and your hamstrings.
- If your forehead doesn't reach the mat, place a block to bring the ground closer to you.
One reason I believe we find Balasana to be such a soothing force of nature is because it is ingrained in our body's muscle memory. Whether you realize it or not, you've been performing Balasana since before you were born.
No matter what modification(s) you choose for your child's pose: knees together or apart, hands by your feet or extended in front of you, it is important to rest your forehead either on the mat or a block in order to stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system.
The parasympathetic nervous system is part of the autonomic nervous system, which is responsible for regulating a variety of body functions: heart rate, breathing, sweating, and digestion. It works in conjunction with the sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system provides quick responses to immediate needs and is often referred to as our "fight or flight," response. On the opposite end of the spectrum lies the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system helps to slow the body's reaction, thus allowing for less urgent processes to occur, often referred to our "rest or digest" response.
A LITTLE ANECDOTE:
It wasn't until I was fully engulfed in yoga teacher training that I even knew a pose called Balasana existed. Crazy...considering I just told you this is a key pose in all yoga practices, right!? But it's true. Over the course of several years, at least a hundred classes, and multiple teachers, never once did I hear the right pronunciation of the pose. I always heard Valasana...with a V! I finally discovered the correct name for Child's Pose when I was reading a book that kept referencing Balasana. Imagine my shock, when I googled this pose I'd never heard of and Child's Pose appeared.
But regardless if you call it Balasana or Valasana, be comfortable in Child's Pose and always remember it's your practice, not your neighbor's practice or your instructor's practice. Yours and yours alone. Happy resting!