Child’s pose, aptly named because the shape of a baby with the spine curved like a fetus is created, is a forward bending pose that has a deeply calming effect for most. The pose is so nourishing and nurturing, I like to come into, be in, and relish its plethora of effects for up to 5 minutes or more daily coming out only when my body, mind and spirit emit the essence of the “ahh” sound and my entire being feels rested and at peace.
If that is not enough, read on as this pose has myriad benefits for those who can safely access it.
1. It calms, centers and soothes the brain
Placing your forehead down on the ground (our Mother Earth) has an immediate physical and energetic grounding effect on the brain. The third chakra located between and slightly above the eyebrows is an energy vortex that when stimulated facilitates an awareness of unity consciousness which in turn brings a profound sense of deep calm and connection.
2. It assists with digestion and sleep
As the torso folds forward over the thighs bringing the front upper body closer to the front lower body, the parasympathetic system is stimulated. This system is the opposite of the flight or flee stress response of the sympathetic system in that it brings the body-mind complex back to homeostasis. This state stimulates digestion, massages the internal organs and assists with sleep!
3. It brings length and ease to the lower back
Though the back is generally overstretched due to our lifestyle (we sit a LOT), in child’s pose the stretching is actually restful. The ropey paraspinal muscles (erector spinae) that run up and down and surround the entire length of the spine from the occipital bone to the sacrum receive a nourishing release from having to hold the torso in an upright position. So, in effect, this deliberate rounding of the spine brings relief to an overworked, tired back body.
4. It opens up the hips, thighs, ligaments of the knees, ankles (if you extend your arms, the shoulders open up too)
Pressing you hips back while keeping you inner thighs and knees together and resting your buttocks on your heels creates length in the external rotators of the hips, buttocks and back upper thighs as well as the lower front thighs, the ankles and the knees. However, if you have knee and or hip joint concerns, you may want to separate your thighs and place a bolster, block or other prop under your belly and forehead to access the pose in a gentler way. You can also place a rolled up cloth behind your knees and/or put a folded blanket or towel under your thighs and under the tops of your feet. You may have to play around with the best way to utilize props so it makes sense for your body.
5. It counters anxiety, panic, vulnerability
This mudra, shape of the body as it folds forward and turns inward, creates the energy of bowing into and honoring Self. One can feel the comforting beat of the heart, the stillness of the breath, the manifestation of divine consciousness that we truly are. This is very nurturing and can take one from feeling out of control to peace and ease. Becoming aware of and deepening the breath (inhale 4, hold 4, exhale 4, hold 4) also encourages and promotes a sense of being okay. Additionally, placing a folded blanket on the sacrum or totally covering up with a blanket can increase the sense of moving inward and “letting go”.
To practice this ‘promoter of all things restful’ pose, kneel on the floor bringing your buttocks to your heels keeping your thighs together, big toes touching. Before folding forward, open up your chest and heart by rolling your shoulders up, back and down and bringing the shoulder blades together and down behind you. Now gently gaze up. Sequentially fold forward taking the front hip bones forward and sticking the tail bone out as if attempting a backbend. Bring belly to upper thighs, chest to lower thighs and forehead to the floor. Your arms will rest palms up on the floor by your feet.
That’s it… you are now ready to practice Child’s Pose.
NOTE: Not everyone can practice or feels comfortable in child’s pose. You may need to prop, modify, practice on your side or find a completely different pose that can bring similar benefits (corpse pose comes to mind). Don’t hesitate to get still, listen inwardly and find the form of child’s pose so that works for you.