From as far back as I can remember, I really have enjoyed (and benefited) from child's pose (balasana). Having a chronic back/hip injury and the associated pain, it was a position that I could stretch my back out even as an awkward tween. Yoga came into my life because of my back injury. Hard to believe how long I've be practicing child's pose!
Child's pose is a kneeling forward bend pose. It releases the low back and spine by letting gravity pull the torso down towards the ground. I even read how some yoga teachers encourage this pose to help energy move through the chakras (I barely know and understand chakras at this point!) All I know is that the prone position (very common) and the similar supine position (think flipped on your back with your knees to your chest) is such a relaxing pose!
In recent practice session with a DVD, Shiva Rea Flow Yoga for Beginners, the yoga teacher provided a real unique way to look at child's pose. The teacher called it wisdom pose because "it is the wisdom of knowing when to relax and come back to yourself. It is the wisdom of knowing when you need to take a break for your body...". What a great way to think of this restful pose.
Recently a friend was commenting on a class she attended where she was doing child's pose the way she was taught, arms outstretched overhead, and the teacher told her that child's pose is suppose to be done with the arms and hands at the side of the body. This made me wonder - what is the actual way to do it? And, like with many poses, there must be modifications and/or variations on how to do it. I dove into my books and the Internet and this is what I found:
1. In most publications it shows arms resting at the side with the palms in the pronated (facing up) position. Forehead is resting on the floor.
2. An upper body option is arms stretched above the head ( in shoulder flexion). So, yes , my friend was still doing child's pose but a variation.
3. Alternatives for the lower body include opening the hips (abduction) and allowing the belly closer to the floor. This variation is something I am very familiar with. It was the only way I could do child's pose while pregnant!
4. The head positioning can also be varied. Forehead can be placed on stacked hands or fists. But also the head can be turned to one side as well.
5. The final variation that I could find was the arms by the side of the body but the hands clasping the heels. For whatever reason, I find this version the most relaxing and least taxing on the body.
So there you have it. The many faces of child's/wisdom pose. My back is better for it. So grateful for this pose!
Aspiring Yoga Teacher
I've practiced yoga since I was a pre-teen and have always found it to keep me centered. I will be a teacher one day and this is my journey to discover teaching and practice.