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When your body needs release, make Happy Baby your go-to. You are on your back, so it requires less physical effort than many poses. Plus, supine positions, especially this one, are restful and restorative. There are many reasons it can feel so good, as happy babies know!
Ananda Balasana is a great stretch for the inner thighs, inner groins, hips, hamstrings—even the shoulders and chest are involved. ssIt offers freedom in the back muscles, which is great after doing other poses, especially backbends and twists. When you take Happy Baby, the sacrum broadens. It gently stretches the inner groins and the back spine. It also calms the brain and helps relieve stress and fatigue.
Happy Baby Basics
Sanskrit Name: Ananda Balasana (Uh-NUHN-duh Buh-LUH-suh-nuh)
Pose type: Supine pose
Targets: Back, hips, and hamstrings
Why we love it: As you roll around side to side and back and forth in Happy Baby, it feels like you’re getting a great massage. It will give your back and hips some extra love that they need and crave. The great part is that it’s gentle enough for most people to enjoy, and luckily, it shows up often in all different types of yoga classes.
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Happy Baby Pose: Step-by-Step Instructions
- Lie on your back. With an exhale, bend your knees into your belly.
- Inhale, grip the outsides of your feet with your hands, or loop a strap or belt over each foot. Open your knees slightly wider than your torso, then bring them up toward your armpits.
- Position each ankle directly over the knee, so your shins are perpendicular to the floor. Flex your feed. Gently push your feet up into your hands (or the belts) as you pull your hands down to create a resistance.
- There are people who find this pose challenging, and that’s totally normal. After all, it’s not often that the knees need to lift higher than the heart and point toward the armpits. If you have trouble getting the knees to widen and move toward the triceps, reach for the knees, calves or ankles so you can get all the benefits from the pose.
- If you can’t easily hold your feet with your hands, try holding each foot with a yoga strap looped around the middle arch.
- Yoga Squat, Malasana, is a great pose for hip and ankle mobility. If you can’t do that pose, try Happy Baby. It’s a great way to gently gain more flexibility without bearing weight on the parts of the body that are less mobile.
- Try to extend the tailbone forward and down to get more release and massage in the low back. The sacrum will feel wider, and this is an area where many people get achy from sitting, lifting and bending.
Teaching Happy Baby
- Tell students to lie on their backs, bend their knees and grab the pinky edges of their feet (or ankles, calves or shins) while bringing their knees into their triceps.
- You may notice students with lifted necks. Cue them to relax the head and neck, and that the neck should be pressed flat toward the ground. If they have trouble getting their necks to release down, they may need to hold their ankles, calves or shins instead of the outside edges of their feet.
- Happy baby is an excellent prep pose for crow as it encourages the knees to get closer into the triceps and armpits. You may want to cue this pose in the beginning of class if you’re planning to teach crow later.
Contraindications and Cautions
Neck injury. Support your head on a thickly folded blanket
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog)
See also 5 Happiness Boosting Poses