CHILD POSE – BALASANA
Has it ever happened to you to feel discomfort during the practice, maybe when entering a position that really doesn’t fit your body? Do you ever feel too tired, stiff or weak and lose control of your breath, being unable to match it with the corresponding movement?
If so, do not worry! It has happened to anyone at least once. In those moments, remember there’s a safe, homy pose ready to guest you: Balsana, Child pose.
Stay here for at least five complete breathe cycles, and when you feel ready, return to the practice,
Balasana is especially useful in Ashtanga Yoga. In fact, Ashtanga a very dynamic and energy absorbing style, and at a certain point dring lesson, you will find yourself repeating the Vinyasa cycle between every sitting pose. Being this is very energy-absorbing, you might need to skip a cycle and recover energy, hence Child pose!
Beware of the difference between Balasana and Savasana (the relaxation practiced at the end of every lesson): while the latter is the final posture, in which you can allow to let go completely, Child pose is a way to recover energies for a limited amount of time, after which you are supposed to go back to the practice.
To enter Balasana, kneel on the floor, big toes next to each other, and sit on your heels.
Place your hands on the upper thighs and slide them down to the floor as your trunk bends forward. As you exhale, lay your torso between tout thighs, relaxing your body.
Walk your hands on the floor far from your knees to lengthen your spine. Spread your fingers and rest your forehead on the floor or on a support such as a block or folded blanket. To increase the benefits of Child Pose, relax you pelvis and focus on its weight falling heavily on your heels, as if somebody was pushing you down. Sometimes Yoga teachers press the spine of their students in two points: on the lower back and at the base of the neck bones, to increase the sensation of letting go and to extra-lengthen the spine.
Stay as much as you need, which is usually at least 3-5 complete breathe cycles.
To go back to the practice, walk your hands towards your body and place your palms on the mat beneath your shoulders, then and press them into the floor to unroll your spine and gain a vertical posture. This should be a gentle movement, especially if you have low blood pressure.
If you prefer so, you can take your arms along your sides, placing your hands by your feet.
You can also join your knees together, resting your chest and belly on your thighs, if this makes you feel more comfortable.
BENEFITS AND SYMBOLIC MEANING
Child Pose is perfect to relax and let go of physical stress and tensions. As already mentioned, it allows a nice lengthening of the whole spine, relieving stiffness also from arms, shoulders and legs.
On the physical level, there are some more benefits to mention: in case you prefer the traditional posture, with your torso laying between your thighs, Child pose contributes to opening your hips. This nice and light stretch is especially beneficial if you are used to keep sitting for long hours in your office, or if you suffer from pain in your hips. Donating yourself a few minutes in Balasana will hence contribute to the health of your hips.
The version with knees together instead is particularly beneficial to help digestion and the intestinal function…and yes, it will help freeing yourself of undesired and maybe painful gases!
On the emotional level, I suggest you to lay in Child pose when you have many thought swirling around your head, which don’t let you enjoy the present, but rather create brain rumination and overthinking. Placing your third eye (the eye of our inner self, located in the area between the brows) on the floor and focusing on this point will help you get rid of futile thoughts and come back to the present.
Balasana is also helpful for those who find it hard to allowing themselves a moment of rest during daily life, or during their life in general. Many people nowadays are overwhelmed with their job, duties, and a perpetual sense of achievement that is never satisfied. Taking a moment for themselves to relax, to think of how they are feeling like and of what they need can appear difficult, hence the challenge of stopping and scanning oneself before going back to the hustle and bustle.
Finally, Child pose is a pose of surrender: surrendering to oneself and leaving apart the fear for judgement and unceasing thoughts that leave our mind not even a moment to rest.
And remember: Yoga is not only about fatigue and efforts, but rather about finding the balance between stress and relax, between our work and our life!