Sometimes I really appreciate the challenge of a strenuous yoga routine and the mental focus that it calls for. But other times, I rely on my home yoga practice to keep me calm, stress free, and sane. In those cases, I love gentle restorative poses like Balasana, or child’s pose. Getting into this fetal position helps stretch your hips, thighs, back, knees, and even arms; however, many instructional sites warn not to perform this pose if you have knee troubles, so make sure to be careful. This pose can be performed on its own, or before or after more difficult poses. Since I still consider myself a beginner yogi, I definitely like to fold into it when I get too tired to hold boat pose or chair pose any longer!
Everything about child’s pose is delightfully simple, including getting into it. Kneel on the floor with your big toes touching. Sit on your heels and spread your knees. Inhale deeply, feeling the breath move through your torso and into your belly. As you exhale, lay your torso down between your thighs and rest your head on the floor. (If that’s too much of a stretch for you, put a blanket or a block under your forehead—remember, this is supposed to be a relaxing pose!) Rest your hands on the mat alongside your body, palms facing up. Stay here as long as your like, focusing on breathing deeply. If you want to vary the pose slightly, bring your arms out in front of you, palms pressing down on the mat, and lower your torso in between your thighs as you slide forward. Really lengthen your spine and sink into the stretch. This is called Utthita Balasana, or extended child’s pose.