bala = child
Step by Step
Kneel on the floor. Touch your big toes together and sit on your heels, then separate your knees about as wide as your hips.
Exhale and lay your torso down between your thighs. Broaden your sacrum across the back of your pelvis and narrow your hip points toward the navel, so that they nestle down onto the inner thighs. Lengthen your tailbone away from the back of the pelvis while you lift the base of your skull away from the back of your neck.
Lay your hands on the floor alongside your torso, palms up, and release the fronts of your shoulders toward the floor. Feel how the weight of the front shoulders pulls the shoulder blades wide across your back.
Balasana is a resting pose. Stay anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes. Beginners can also use Balasana to get a taste of a deep forward bend, where the torso rests on the thighs. Stay in the pose from 1 to 3 minutes. To come up, first lengthen the front torso, and then with an inhalation lift from the tailbone as it presses down and into the pelvis.
- Gently stretches the hips, thighs, and ankles
- Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and fatigue
- Relieves back and neck pain when done with head and torso supported
Contraindications and Cautions
- Knee injury: Avoid Balasana unless you have the supervision of an experienced teacher.
We usually don't breathe consciously and fully into the back of the torso. Balasana provides us with an excellent opportunity to do just that. Imagine that each inhalation is "doming" the back torso toward the ceiling, lengthening and widening the spine. Then with each exhalation release the torso a little more deeply into the fold.
To increase the length of the torso, stretch your arms forward. Lift your buttocks just slightly away from your heels. Reach the arms longer while you draw the shoulder blades down the back. Then without moving the hands, sit the buttocks down on the heels again.
Modifications and Props
If you have difficulty sitting on your heels in this pose, place a thickly folded blanket between your back thighs and calves.
A partner can help you lengthen the "dome" shape of your back in this pose. Have your partner stand to one of your sides. He/she should place one hand on your sacrum (fingers pointing toward the tailbone) and the other hand on your mid-back (fingers pointing toward your head). As you exhale, your partner can press gently down (toward the floor) and, without physically moving the hands, scrub them in opposite directions. Help your partner regulate the pressure on your back—ask for more or less—but have him/her apply more pressure only on an exhalation.
- Balasana is a resting pose that can precede or follow any asana.