Balasana is a popular yoga position. It is also called child's pose, as it is meant to make the practitioner feel the safety and security that is often associated with childhood. It is referred to as a resting pose since it does not require active movements or strength. In most cases, the practitioner is encouraged to focus on the inhalations and exhalations of the breath when performing the pose.
To enter into balasana, a practitioner can begin in a kneeling position. Then, she will slowly sit back onto the heels of her feet. While inhaling, she will fold her body over her thighs and place her forehead on the ground in front of her body. In most cases, her arms will rest on the ground on each side of her body and her hands will face upward, with the palms facing the ceiling.
As with many poses in yoga, variations exist in balasana. One of the most common variations alters the placement of the arms and hands. Specifically, the arms can be stretched in front of the body, as if the practitioner is reaching for something out of her reach. In this variation, the hands are typically placed with the palms facing downward and the fingers radiating outward. Some people believe that this variation is more active than the traditional child's pose, yet it is also considered a resting pose.
The focus generally should be on the breath when resting in balasana during yoga. Many practitioners will feel that their breathing is constricted when they fold their torsos over their thighs, particularly since the rib cage presses into the lungs. Although breathing may seem more labored, it is important that the practitioner breathe slowly and evenly. As she holds the pose, her breaths may become longer as well. Many practitioners believe that the breath during balasana forces energy to move to the spine and causes the back to expand.
Aside from forcing energy into the spine, balasana offers several other benefits. For example, it is often used to de-stress and fight tiredness. In addition, it is used to gently stretch the thighs and open the hips. Some people believe it helps with digestion as well.
As with nearly any activity, some people should use caution when entering into balasana. Specifically, since there is some weight placed on the abdomen, women who are pregnant should consult their doctors first. In addition, if pain is experienced in the knees or the neck, then the position should be avoided or support should be offered through the use of a cushion or blanket.