The Happy Baby Yoga Pose Guide (Ananda Balasana)

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Don’t act like a baby, they say. 

Well, yoga says otherwise

… and the arguments to do so are pretty darn convincing.

Yep, that’s right. Thanks to the happy baby pose and all its benefits, you’ll find yogis everywhere rolling around on the floor like a little baby literally!

Want to know more?

In this article we’ll answer:

  • What is the happy baby yoga pose?
  • What are the benefits of the happy baby pose?
  • What are the safety precautions of the pose?
  • How to master the happy baby yoga pose?
  • Modifications and variations

Ready to channel your inner child?

Let’s play!

The Happy Baby Yoga Pose Guide (Ananda Balasana)

What is the Happy Baby Yoga Pose?

The happy baby pose is an inverted form of Child’s Pose, in which the body is resting on its back, thighs held alongside the torso with knees bent and fingers grasping the toes.

The reclined shape of the posture, coupled with its rocking motion, resembles a joyful baby – from which the name originates.

In fact, the posture’s smile-worthy name comes from the Sanskrit Ananda Balasanaananda meaning ‘happiness’, bala meaning ‘young child’ and sana meaning ‘pose’.

You wouldn’t guess from its ancient title and the vibrant mythology behind the posture, but the Happy Baby Pose is actually amongst the younger yoga asanas, originating after the original hatha yoga texts.

While it might not be a traditional posture, it sure is a popular one.

Indeed, the happy baby pose is very common amongst contemporary practices of both yoga and pilates due to its calming motion and countless psychological and physical health benefits.

3 Happy Baby Yoga Pose Benefits

The physical and mental benefits of the happy baby pose are ample. Here are our favourite:

The Happy Baby Yoga Pose Guide (Ananda Balasana)

#1: Hip-opener

The wide-legged nature of the happy baby pose makes it great for opening the hips, inner thighs and groin, stretching and releasing tension in these areas.

This makes the pose perfect for those of us who spend extended periods of time sitting down, which can cause shortening of the hip flexors.

The happy baby pose is also particularly good for women, who tend to hold a lot of their emotional stress and tension around their hips causing tightness and pain.

#2: Back-reliever

It turns out that the happy baby pose makes your back pretty darn happy too.

By bringing the knees towards the chest while keeping the legs wide, this pose lengthens and opens the lower back, releasing tightness and assisting in realigning the spine from the lumbar to the neck.

This in combination with the gentle rocking that stimulates circulation while massaging and activating your back muscles can help to relieve various types of back pain.

#3: Emotional balancer

And the benefits aren’t just physical. The gentle rocking motion encourages the release of serotonin and dopamine in the brain producing a powerful calming effect.

As these feel-good endorphins are released, a relaxing effect ensues that can reduce stress, lower heart rate, increase clarity and ease symptoms of stress and anxiety.

In fact, the psychological effect of rocking is so strong that it’s now being used in therapies to calm the symptoms of ADHD and Alzheimers!

The Happy Baby Yoga Pose Guide (Ananda Balasana)

Happy Baby Pose Precautions: 

Despite its many benefits, as with any exercise, there are certain safety precautions to be mindful of before and during practising the happy baby pose.

As happy baby pose is a very mild inversion, it places your head lower than your heart and hips and features some abdominal compression. This can affect your circulation which could cause complications for pregnant persons, those menstruating and people with high blood pressure.

Additionally, those with past or current injuries to the back, neck, knees or ankles should be cautious and consult a doctor before attempting this pose, which places some pressure on these areas which could exacerbate pre-existing conditions.

As well as the above, look out for pain or cramping which are your body’s way of telling you something isn’t right. If experienced, gently exit the pose and perhaps pursue a variation that’s better suited to your body.

The effects of the happy baby pose will inevitably vary across different body types, so stay mindful of your body’s personal limits.

The Happy Baby Yoga Pose Guide (Ananda Balasana)

The Happy Baby Pose: 13 Step How To Guide

Now you’ve learnt a bit about the happy baby pose, it’s time to try it for yourself.

1. Begin lying flat on your back, body straight and relaxed.

2. Inhale as you slowly lift your legs up, bringing your knees towards your chest.

3. Stretch both arms out between your bent legs and grasp both big toes with three fingers – your middle and index finger over the top and thumb around the base of your toe. This is known as a ‘toe lock’.

4. Make sure your head is resting on the floor, back flat and ankles stacked directly over the knees so that both shins are perpendicular to the mat underneath you.

5. Your shoulder blades and the entire length of your spine should be against the floor.

6. Here, you should find that your thighs fall alongside your torso, and your legs are bent at a 90-degree angle with the soles of the feet facing up to the sky.

7. From here, gently open up your hips and widen your legs to deepen the stretch.

8. As your tailbone naturally rises off the mat, press your heels up, your sit bones down and very gently pull back with your arms.

9. Lengthen your spine and notice how as you gently pull with your arms, it brings your thighs into your torso.

10. Keeping legs wide, press the knees down toward the floor and feel the deep stretch in your hips, groin, and thighs.

The Happy Baby Yoga Pose Guide (Ananda Balasana)

11. Flex your ankles and heels, and gently rock from side to side by slowly shifting your body weight from one side to the other.

12. Remain here for one or two minutes, breathing mindfully and surveying how your body feels as you do so.

13. To exit the pose, exhale and release your arms and legs back into your starting position.

Nailed it!

4 Modifications and Variations

#1: Half Happy Baby Pose

If the full happy baby pose feels a little too much, ease yourself in by trying it one leg at a time.

Do this by following the steps above, but instead bringing just one leg towards the chest, both hands grasping either side of your raised foot.

As well as the posture notes above, be sure to keep the opposite hip grounded against the floor and repeat the position with the other leg to protect the anatomical balance.

Have fun and experiment with the resting leg, keeping it straight, bent a lot or just a little – finding whatever feels right for your body.

The Happy Baby Yoga Pose Guide (Ananda Balasana)

#2: Strap Happy

For those of you with tight shoulders or restricted movement in your upper back, you might find a little difficulty in reaching your toes while maintaining a flat back.

But don’t worry! You can still reap the rewards of the happy baby pose with the help of a trusty yoga strap. In doing so, you are able to isolate your hip sockets while allowing your spine and shoulders to be at ease.

To do so, simply position the strap across the balls of both feet, so that equal lengths of the strap fall on either side. With slightly arms bent, take the strap and wrap it loosely around your hands, keeping your hips wide and your shins perpendicular to the floor as you do so.

#3: Crossed Baby

This modification is perfect for encouraging your lower back to deeply relax into the floor – making it great for those with a tricky lower back or as a relief pose after backbend practices.

To achieve the crossed baby pose, rather than raising the soles of your feet up to the sky with legs at a 90-degree angle, instead, cross your right shin over the left with hands grasping your feet or knees.

Allow your sacrum and shoulder blades to relax onto the floor and notice how your breath more easily flows into your lower back. Remember to preserve that anatomic balance by repeating the pose with the left shin over the right.

The Happy Baby Yoga Pose Guide (Ananda Balasana)

#4: Wall Baby

If you’re having difficulty getting into or remaining in the happy baby posture, perhaps the stabilisation of a wall is what you need for that little extra support.

Before attempting the pose, position the short edge of your mat against a wall. Lie on your back and bend your knees towards your chest, but rather than facing the soles of your feet up to the ceiling, plant both soles flat against the wall.

Rest your arms alongside your torso, palms against the floor. Use them to gently shuffle your bottom closer to the wall until your position resembles a lying-down deep squat.

Happy baby pose left you inspired to escape the stresses of adult life?

You’ve mastered the happy baby yoga pose, but sometimes life gives you lemons that call for a longer de-stress routine. 

Got lemons? Check this out: 7 Yoga Poses For Stress Relief – Instant And Effective 

Photo of author
Tish Qvortrup is a Brighton-born Yogi, with a passion for living intentionally. A Yoga Alliance registered 500hr teacher, she found her calling in Yin and Yang yoga. In her spare time, she loves exploring the outdoors and cooking plant-based goodies.

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