This position imitates the way the child in the womb often sleeps and in fact many small children will often instinctively sleep or relax in this pose. It is used for resting in between more vigorous yoga positions and can also be used for cooling down the body and mind at the end of a class. It is one of those yogic wonders, a pose that relaxes and stretches the body at the same time. It encourages the spine to gently stretch itself while allowing tense back muscles to unwind. One of the beautifying poses, it brings blood to the face and head, thereby restoring energy to the person.

To practice Child Pose:

  • Kneel on your mat so that the backs of your thighs are in contact with the backs of your calves. (If you can’t manage this, place a cushion or folded blanket in between the thighs and calves.)
  • Inhale, exhale, and bend forwards from the hips until you can rest your forehead on the floor. (If you can’t bring your forehead to the floor, rest it on a folded blanket, OR, prop up your elbows on the floor and rest your chin in your hands.)
  • Rest your arms either down by your sides or stretched out on the mat in front of you.
  • Stay in the position for 6 breaths or for as long as you like! As you exhale, allow your chest to descend towards the floor. Always make sure that your tailbone and sitting bones keep moving downwards so that you maintain that contact between the backs of the thighs and the backs of your calves. This allows your hips to open and the spine to extend itself.

Variation: Child Pose moving forwards

This is a more active form of the pose where the arms are extended forwards and the hands hold the legs of a chair. (You could also hold human legs if you can find a willing participant!) The spine gets more of a stretch and the hips open more fully.

Place a chair in front of your mat giving yourself enough room to extend your arms fully. Perform child pose as above but as you exhale, stretch your arms forwards in the direction of the legs of the chair. Also release the chest towards the floor. Hold the legs of the chair. As the sides of the body and the armpits release, you can nudge the chair slightly backwards and extend the arms further. But keep the backs of the thighs in contact with the backs of the calves at all times. If the hips keep lifting, place a cushion or folded blanket under the backs of the thighs.  Continue for 6 breaths.

STOP! Do not take your forehead to the floor if you suffer from high blood pressure or have heart problems. Prop up your elbows on the floor and rest your chin in your hands instead. If you are pregnant, you can take the knees apart to make it easier for you to bend forwards.

P.S. In last week’s post I said the oldest yoga teacher in the world had died last year aged 90. Since then, one of my students sent me an email telling me about another yoga teacher, Bernice Bates, who is still teaching yoga in the U.S. at the tender age of 91. She is quoted in the article as saying, “Why should I quit? As long as I can do it and be a help to someone else. I’ll just stay as long as I can.” My own yoga teacher once said that if you do yoga regularly, you will be young until you are 70, middle-aged between 70 and 90, and only when you are 90 odd should you consider yourself to be getting old. It seems in Ms.Bates case, she has no intention of getting old, just yet!

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