Half Happy Baby Pose, Ardha Ananda Balasana, (ar-dhah ah-NAHN-dah bah-LAH-sah-nah)
ardha (half) + ananda (happy) + bala (child) + asana (pose)
Also Known as: ardha ananda balasana
Alleviate your tight hips in Half Happy Baby Pose
half happy baby Pose Fundamentals
Release pent-up tension in the hips and allow your body to fully relax in this restorative pose. Half Happy Baby is a beginner’s variation of the full Happy Baby Pose. The main difference is that only one leg is raised, and the other is extended down towards the floor, unlike in full Happy Baby where both hips are bent.
This position is ideal for beginners who want to work on opening their hips. It aids students who have tight hips and can’t keep their lower back from lifting in Happy Baby Pose. It helps not only by opening the hips but also because it will teach them to become more aware of their spinal alignment, which will be useful when learning the full expression of the pose.
The pose will be just as beneficial and regenerative for advanced students, in the moments when they need a slower and more gentle yoga sequence, or as a preparatory pose for other hip opening postures, like the Foot Behind The Head Pose. It is also commonly included in Restorative yoga sessions, as well as Yin Yoga, where it is a part of the sequence for stimulating the Gallbladder and Liver meridians.
This gentle pose provides a safe space for releasing negative emotions, which we tend to store in deep tissues in our hips. Additionally, it activates the Sacral (Svadisthana) Chakra, related to our sense of creativity and sensuality, but also our ability to enjoy and have fun. A balanced Sacral Chakra helps us to stabilize our emotions and express our sexuality, desire, and creativity in a healthy and enjoyable way. It also helps us to open ourselves to the world, set boundaries and resolve issues related to co-dependency.
It seems the physical, mental, and spiritual benefits of this pose all lead in a similar direction – it allows us to relax, and work on releasing emotional, physical, and energetic blockages in a non-violent and compassionate way.
half happy baby Pose Benefits
- Stretches and lengthens the hips, chest, hamstrings, and calves. In this manner, it may help prevent injuries caused by stretching in these areas. It may also help prepare us for deeper hip opening poses.
- This position is one of the best poses for beginners who want to practice diaphragmatic breathing or deep abdominal breathing.
- It’s easy to control the depth of the stretch in the pose, which can teach students to become aware of their body, listen to its signs, and find an appropriate edge. This skill will be useful in all other yoga poses.
- The pose can also help detect asymmetry in the hips, especially when you have a teacher by your side to help you.
- It helps relieve fatigue and relax the nervous system, and also reduces stiffness in the back which accumulated through the day. This makes it an ideal pose for practicing before sleep.
- The pose stimulates and compresses the abdominal organs, which may improve the function of the digestive and urinary systems.
- May help realign and decompress the sacroiliac joint to reduce pain in this area. It may also be a helpful supplemental treatment for Chronic Pelvis Pain (CPP).
- It releases energetic blocks and emotional tension in the hips and brings clarity.
How To Do half happy baby Pose: Step-By-Step
How To Get There:
1. Begin in Corpse Pose. Become aware of your breath and try to breathe from the abdomen, slowly elongating the inhales and the exhales.
2. Bring the right knee close to your chest and raise the sole of the right foot towards the ceiling, so that the thigh is perpendicular to the floor.
3. Flex the raised foot and catch it with both hands. If you’re not able to reach the foot, grab the ankles or the shins, or use a strap. The knee will automatically move to the side, but make sure it is still in the same line as the ankle.
4. Keep your chest and shoulders grounded, and your spine long. Hold the pose for a minimum of five breaths, or longer if you’re practicing the Yin or Restorative Styles (in this case, the pose is usually held for at least 15 breaths or 2 minutes).
5. Release the foot on the ground, and straighten the right leg. Now repeat the same pose on the other side. Once you complete both sides, relax in Corpse Pose and observe if you feel any change in your body.
Tips And Tricks:
- Don’t pull the raised foot towards the head, rather pull it down, towards the floor, to avoid placing too much pressure on the back.
- Keep the neck long and reduce the pressure on this area by slightly tucking the chin towards the chest.
- Hold on the back of the thigh, shin, or ankle, or use a strap if you can’t reach the foot comfortably and without straining.
- Don’t force the knee to touch the mat, as that may lead to knee joint injury. Create resistance by pressing your foot into the hand, but be gentle and slow with your body.
- Keep the shoulders rooted in the ground, and energize through the arms.
half happy baby Pose Variations:
Half Happy Baby Pose Variation: Hips Elevated
If you struggle to keep the extended leg, hips, or lower back on the floor, elevate your sacrum. You can use a bolster if you have it, or any other type of prop, like a yoga block, cushion, or folded blankets. Elevating your hips in this manner will keep your hips aligned and improve the benefits of the pose.
This variation is also common in Yin and Restorative Yoga styles, as it allows you to comfortably hold the position for longer periods of time. If you’re practicing these styles, it may be good to support your lower back even if you can usually keep it on the ground, as this will allow you to fully relax in the pose.
Half Happy Baby Pose Variation: Practice Against A Wall
Another variation that can help students who have thigh hips, or for any other reason struggle with the pose, is practicing against a wall. Like the previous variation, practicing against a wall can also be appropriate if you’re practicing Yin or Restorative Yoga styles.
In this variation, lie on your back, and raise your leg on the wall. Your hips should be close to the wall, but don’t need to touch it. Then grab one foot, ankle, thigh, or shin and bring it close to your chest. The other leg is extended on the wall, so this variation is also a mild inversion. For this reason, it is a suitable replacement for more intense inversions during your menstrual cycle.
Precautions & Contraindications:
Forcing the Pose. Any pushing or forcing in this pose may lead to injuries or pain. Don’t force your knee to touch the ground, rather stop the pulling action as soon as you feel a stretching sensation. If you feel pain or discomfort in any area of your body, it means you should reduce the depth of the stretch.
Upper body off the ground. Your whole torso should be grounded, including your shoulders and lower back. If that’s difficult, raise your hips on a bolster or a block.
Resting Leg Lifting. Students with very tight hips and hamstrings may lift the resting leg automatically. You can use your palm to gently push the leg into the mat.
Avoid this posture if you’ve had a recent injury in the knees, shoulders, ankles, neck, or hips. Practicing the pose may increase the discomfort in these areas, so be sure you fully recover before you practice it.
Figure Four Stretch
Reclined Bound Angle Pose
For more in-depth asana resources, check out our free Yoga Pose Library. Here you’ll find complete guides to each and every yoga asana to deepen your yoga knowledge.
Each pose page features high-quality photos, anatomy insights, tips and tricks, pose instructions and queues, asana variations, and preparatory and counter poses.