Your eyes are closed.
Your body is still.
You are floating in a warm, turquoise bed of water.
There is absolutely no effort.
As you sway farther into your inner landscape, the ocean continues to gently rock you. Your breath is calm as it melts in and out of your core. Remember this sensation of floating; of being held and being free all at once. Remember this sensation of ease, of sukha.
Meaning pleasant, sweetness, or ease, sukha is an essential component of all āsana. It is a practice in both the body and the mind. It is an integral component of restorative yoga, as this aspect of the practice allows the body to relax and find stillness.
Child’s pose (balasana) and resting child’s pose (Bāla Nidrāsana) may be one of my favourite poses, especially in finding this sense of sukha.
Though child’s pose can be used during a more active practice, it and its restorative equivalent (resting child’s pose) are both a great way to find grounding, introspection, and rest. Without the use of props, child’s pose can be done anywhere at any time. This pose releases the back of the body, especially the lower back, the glutes, the back of the shoulders, and the heart centre. This is a particularly great counter pose after completing any backbends or inversions.
How To Get Into Child’s Pose [Balasana]
Sit on your heels with your knees together. Folding forward over your thighs, rest your forehead to the floor. Let your arms drape beside with you, letting your palms face upwards. Let your body feel release and surrender, as you ground into the earth below you. If you feel rather open through the hips, you can spread your knees wider apart. Allow your arms to reach and stretch in front of you, allowing a mild shoulder opening.
It is important to note that this pose should be strain-free and completely effortless. The knees, ankles, and feet should feel comfortable. Let the neck and head rest in a relaxed and natural position. If the hips are floating in the air (due to tighter muscles in the legs and lower back), you may support them by placing a block, blanket, or bolster beneath the sitting bones. And if it is more comfortable, placing your hands underneath your forehead is also an option.
Restorative Yoga’s Resting Child’s Pose [Bāla Nidrāsana]
Resting child’s pose offers the same benefits as child’s pose, but instead this pose is accompanied with props allowing the body to rest for a maximum of 8 minutes. For this restorative pose you can use just a bolster or a bolster placed in a reclined position using two blocks both at different heights. You may also use a folded blanket at the highest end of the bolster to support the head and neck.
Coming to sit on your heels, widen your legs apart (slightly wider than hip-width). Bring the short edge of the bolster to the front of your belly. Rest your torso on the bolster in front of you, letting you feel completely supported. Let your arms rest beneath or beside your bolster. Making sure your head and neck are comfortable, let your cheek rest on the bolster or the blanket. Rotate/turn your head throughout the practice to balance the light twist in your neck and spine. Let the tailbone drop towards the heels. Breathe into the back of your body, as your weight sinks into the ground. And as you continue to breathe, relax the space between the shoulder blades.
Alternative Adjustments And Modifications:
If more space is needed in the knee joints, consider rolling a blanket or using a bolster in between the sitting bones and heals. To reduce stress on ankle ligaments and the tops of the feet, use a rolled blanket under the fronts of the ankle. Unfortunately, I would recommend not practicing this pose if you are more than three months pregnant or have chronic back conditions.
Whether you practice a vigorous vinyasa or prefer to incorporate mild yoga practices throughout your day, child’s pose or resting child’s pose is a great option to truly release and rest the body. It is an ideal posture to instantly drop into that sensation of sukha or ease. When we start to understand and acknowledge this sense of ease and sweetness, we start to recognize and practice it off our mats and in our everyday lives.