Fresh Take Friday: Balasana (Child’s Pose)

Happy Friday, everyone! Today, let’s take a fresh look at coming out of Balasana, or Child’s Pose.

Balasana is a pose that is commonly used as a place of rest in many yoga classes. I want to look specifically at how we exit this pose today, but before we get into that, I think it’s important to note that this pose isn’t accessible, comfortable or restful for everyone! If you find this pose impossible, uncomfortable, or otherwise unenjoyable, you aren’t the only one. If you need alternatives to Child’s Pose, or would like some help troubleshooting it, skip this article and instead comment below or send me a message.

Pushing up from the Earth

In a pose like Balasana, or any pose done on the belly (such as Salabhasana – Locust Pose, or Bhujangasana – Cobra Pose), you will often hear the instruction to place the hands under the shoulders and press up, or to walk the hands back towards you to provide support as you come up. Or sometimes very little instruction is given for how to exit the pose.

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with any of this. These are all perfectly good ways to teach (and practice) Child’s Pose!

If you’ve taken a class with me lately, you will know that I’ve been offering the exit from Balasana as one of those places in the practice where you can explore more intentional variety in how you’re moving. I’ve been exploring this for a couple of reasons.

1: If you always come out of the pose the same way, you might not be very intentional about how you’re doing it. In other words, you might not know why you’re coming out this way. Maybe because a teacher told you that was the way to do it, or because that’s what you landed on when you first learned the pose. And if you never experience the movement done in other ways, you won’t really know what feels best, what you want to work on, and whether it’s the best way for you in the moment. More variety = more information = better choices.

2: We get stronger and more skilled at what we practice, so once you get good at doing a movement one way, it might be beneficial (and interesting!) to change things up. This way we give our bodies (and brains) more kinds of input, develop strength in different positions, and give ourselves more movement options.

Ways to Explore

If you’re a beginner:

Play with the options given below and find the one(s) where you feel strongest and most supported. Practice this way regularly at first. When it starts to feel like a habit (you start to feel confident and familiar coming in and out of the pose, and/or you find you are moving on autopilot), then you might consider exploring another way.

If you have an established practice:

Start to explore variations on your usual method of exiting Balasana. Practice one for a while until you get good at it, or change it up regularly. Pay attention to make sure you are coming up in a way that is coordinated with your breath, and that you are not creating any pain, gripping, or tension in the way you are moving. Coming up in new ways might be more challenging, but they shouldn’t veer into the realm of struggle.

For everyone:

Exploring sometimes means we find things that don’t work. Move slowly with awareness. Make small, gradual changes. Look for signs that something isn’t working: pain, gripping, breath holding – and stop if they arise.

Some things to try:

  • Take the hands wider or narrower
  • Take the hands forward or back of where you usually place them
  • Change the angle of the hands
  • Change the shape of the hands (come up on finger tips, use fists, use flat palms, etc.)
  • Use just one hand.

How do these changes affect how you feel? Can you think of any other variations?

This video shows me playing with these concepts in my practice. Note: the video is sped up and is just included as an example. Please move slowly and explore what feels good for you.

The information, instruction, and advice contained in this post and video are in no way intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content is for general informational purposes only. Not all exercises are suitable for everyone. Consult your doctor before beginning this or any exercise program.

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