Child’s pose is one of the most widely known yoga poses in the modern practice of asana, and in Sanskrit, it is known as Balasana.
It is categorized as a beginner posture, however, many practitioners may find that the standard way of accessing Child’s pose is too restrictive or uncomfortable, especially for folks who have tighter hips, knees, or ankles.
There are many child’s pose variations that yogis can explore in order to make the yoga posture fit their needs.
Whether you’re a practitioner looking for new ways to practice child’s pose, or a yoga teacher wanting to bring more accessible options into your classes, this article is for you.
We will explore Child’s pose variations that can help you deepen your stretch, find more comfort, and create unique flows that adapt to your needs.
- Basics of child’s pose
- Benefits of child’s pose
- Popular child’s pose variations
- Child’s pose variations with props
- Other ways to adapt child’s pose
Basics of child’s pose
Before we delve into child’s pose variations and how to access them, it is important to understand the basics of this yoga posture.
Let’s look at the fundamental alignment of balasana and how to practice it in its traditional form;
Start on all fours in a tabletop position, with your knees hips-distance apart and your hands shoulder-width apart, establishing hasta bandha. If your wrists are sensitive, keep your hands in fists, instead.
Take some breaths here and notice how you feel.
Once you’re ready, bring the tops of your feet to the floor and start walking your hands forward, lowering your hips towards your heels, lengthening the side body.
Relax your arms alongside your body and bring your forehead to rest on the mat.
Settle into the posture for a few breaths, noticing the length of your spine, and avoiding much rounding or arching.
Take a few deep breaths and allow your body to relax into the pose.
Benefits of child’s pose
Child’s pose is a yoga pose practiced in a prone position and it is a very popular yoga pose that offers numerous benefits to the mind and body, check out some of the main ones:
- including relaxation
- increased flexibility
- improved digestion
- release of tension in the lower back and neck
- stretch the hips and quadriceps
- balances the root, sacral, and third eye chakras
- it can be easily adapted for different needs
Popular child’s pose variations
Although considered a beginner pose, in the way that it is traditionally practiced balasana is not accessible to many folks.
The pose can be easily modified to suit the practitioner’s needs, by choosing from a wide variety of child’s pose variations.
When we use variations, we open up our creativity, and the practice evolves.
Here are some child’s pose variations for you to try:
1# Wide-Legged Child’s Pose
If you have tight hips, quads, knees, or ankles or prefer a wider base, try a wide-legged Child’s pose variation.
To practice it, start in tabletop position, and separate your knees a bit wider than your hips, maybe as wide as your mat, with your big toes toward each other.
Walk your hands forward and lower your hips towards your heels, keeping your arms extended.
Bring your forehead down to the floor, and take 3 to 5 breaths in the pose.
You may feel a stretch in your inner thighs and groin, as well as your lower back.
2# Extended Child’s Pose
If you want to stretch your arms and shoulders while in child’s pose, try extended child’s pose.
Start in the standard Child’s pose and walk your hands forward as far as you can, without straining.
Your arms can be a bit bent or fully extended, and you may feel a decent amount of stretch in your shoulders, upper back, and arms.
3# Thread the Needle Child’s Pose
If you want to target your hips, glutes, and lower back, try thread the needle child’s pose.
Start in a standard child’s pose; inhale as you lift your right hand off the mat, exhale, threading it under your left arm.
Your right shoulder and ear will come to rest on the mat, and your right hip may lift slightly.
Breathe, as you feel a stretch into your right hip and glute.
Hold for several breaths, and then switch sides, taking a moment in between to neutralize your spine.
This child’s pose variation can also be done with a bent left elbow for more support and accessibility.
4# Puppy Pose Variation
If you want to lengthen your spine and stretch your arms, chest, and shoulders further than in the traditional child’s pose, or you’d like to keep pressure away from your ankles or knees, puppy pose may be one of the best child’s pose variations for you to try.
Start in the standard child’s pose and walk your hands forward, keeping your hips over your knees, and allowing your chest to melt toward the floor.
Your arms may be fully extended, and your forehead can rest on your yoga mat, or for more sensation on the neck and deeper chest opening, bring your chin to the floor instead.
You may feel a stretch in your spine, arms, and shoulders.
5# Child’s pose with palms facing up
Balasana can also be practiced with your palms facing up, creating a different sensation for your shoulders and upper back.
6# Child’s pose with bind
To deepen the stretch in the arms and shoulders, interlace your fingers behind your back and keep the bind close to your hips, or for even more sensation, lift the fists up and away.
Take a few deep breaths and focus on releasing any tension in your upper body.
7# Supine Child’s pose
If you want to stretch your hips, thighs, and lower back explore one of the most playful, creative child’s pose variations.
The supine variation of child’s pose doesn’t require for you to be on your knees, and it is, in essence, Ananda Balasana.
Lay on your back and draw your knees into your chest.
Depending on how much you want to stretch your hips, start to draw your knees wider.
For the traditional happy baby, hold the outer edges of your feet and lift them towards the ceiling.
Alternatively, bring the soles of your feet toward each other and draw your knees wider, holding your feet with your hands or with a yoga strap.
Gently rock from side to side to massage your lower back and hips.
8# Child’s pose with hands as support
If the floor seems a little far when practicing balasana, consider making a pillow with your hands or piling up your fists, one on top of the other, and resting your forehead.
Child’s pose variations with props
Using props like blocks, bolsters, blankets, and chairs can be a great way to practice child’s pose variations and make the shape more accessible.
Here are a few child’s pose variations with a variety of props for you to explore:
9# Child’s pose with a bolster
For additional support for the upper body, also releasing extra tension that may appear on the hips, adapt child’s pose by placing a yoga bolster or pillow under your chest and resting your head on it.
10# Child’s pose with a block
With the same purpose of placing your hands under your forehead but with the added bonus of the extra support provided by a prop, bring a yoga block under your forehead when practicing child’s pose.
11# Child’ pose with two blocks
If you want to open up through your arms and shoulders even more, especially when practicing an extended child’s pose, bring blocks, on any of their three settings, underneath your hands.
The higher you set the blocks, the more intensity you may feel on your shoulders, so stay mindful!
12# Child’s pose with a blanket
To mind the gap between your hips and your heels, and to ease sensation in the hips and quads, try practicing a variation of child’s pose with a folded yoga blanket on top of your heels, where you can rest your hips and relax.
13# Child’s pose using 2 chairs and a bolster
For those practicing chair yoga or wheelchair yoga, child’s pose can be practiced while seated by placing a chair in front of you and a bolster or pillow on top of it, where you can rest your upper body and relax.
Child’s pose variations offer numerous benefits for practitioners including increased flexibility, deeper relaxation, and improved digestion.
With regular practice, balasana can help you release tension, find inner peace, and deepen your connection to your body and breath.
By incorporating child’s pose variations, you can customize the pose to suit your needs and preferences.
Listen to your body and modify as needed to best care for yourself and reap the benefits of this great yoga posture.
Learn about other common poses here.