When you need to take a break and catch your breath in between tough standing asanas, core stretches and forward bends, then rest in Balasana.
(Pronounced as "BAH-LAHS-anna")
Bala means "child" in Sanskrit. In this pose, you relax fully just like a child who has curled up into a little ball in their cradle.
Kneel down on your yoga mat. Place your feet so that the tops of both feet press down into the floor with your big toes touching each other, and you should keep your knees apart. Your knees should not be wider apart than your hips.
If you cannot sit comfortably on your heels because of chronic pain in the ankles, then roll a blanket and place it underneath the front of your ankles on the floor.
If you have knee problems that prevent you from sitting on your heels, then sit up on a height like one or two folded yoga blankets.
Take a deep breath and exhale as you bend forward. Keep your buttocks pressed firmly down on your support or the floor as you rest your forehead on your yoga mat. If your hips are too tight to allow your head to reach the floor, then place a folded blanket or bolster under your forehead.
Now hold your wrists behind your lower back. Allow your clasped hands to rest down on your lower back, which helps the sacrum descend and releases tension in your hips. Lengthen your spine all the way up from your sacrum to your head as you keep breathing in a relaxed manner.
After one minute, you should feel your belly and lower back have sunken down further toward the floor. Now you can release your hands from behind your back. Let your arms naturally drop down at your sides so that the forearms and fronts of your hands rest into the floor. This step allows you to release the tension in your shoulders. Stay here for at least 30 seconds.
Since Balasana is a restorative pose, you should hold it for at least one minute or up to five minutes. To come out of the pose, inhale as you extend your front torso and lift yourself up from the tailbone, keeping your buttocks pressed down on your heels.
If you have trouble dropping your torso down toward the floor, you can also place a bolster in front of you so that your belly and torso rest on top of the bolster when you bend forward. Then put a pillow on top of the bolster to support your forehead, allowing space for you to breathe comfortably.
Go deeper into the pose by reaching forward with both of your arms as far as you can. This position is extended Child's Pose, which is actually Adho Mukha Virasana. Lift your head slightly to rest on your chin, allowing your chest to expand and come down even lower toward the floor. As you stretch forward, keep your buttocks grounded firmly on your heels.
To get a more complete release in your back during Child's Pose, ask a partner to stand behind you. Have them press one hand on the middle of your lower back directly above your ankles. With their other hand, they can gently press in between your shoulder blades. They should use their fingers to gently push their hands in opposite directions without sliding their hands out of position, creating length in your back muscles.
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