How we get on with particular yoga postures can tell us a lot about ourselves.
Your yoga practice can show you how your body, mind and emotions are today – if you’re willing to listen!
So, let’s look at Child’s Pose. A basic yoga pose you’ll experience in most yoga classes.
It’s a gentle forward bend, and a mild inversion if your head is below the level of your heart.
It is, potentially, a wonderfully relaxing, quietening pose. It can enable you to release tension from the whole of your spine as well as the shoulder blades, and encouraging a deep sense of inner peace and security.
However, I notice in my classes that some people struggle with this pose. Maybe their heads don’t reach the ground, or their bum is sticking up high in the air.
Some potential challenges
If you have knee or hip stiffness or pain, the flexion (bending) of the knees and hips in Child’s Pose can prove a challenge.
If you have a tight or painful lower back if will also prove challenging as the lower back muscles need to be able to stretch in order to release the torso down towards the floor.
However, if you do find the pose challenging due to back tensions, stiffness or pain please do not assume that this posture isn’t for you.
Child’s Pose promotes flexibility, stress relief and helps circulation to the muscles, joints and discs of the back. If you can ease beyond the tension then Child’s Pose can be deeply relaxing – utilise all the support you need to enable you to relax (see the tips below).
If you have facet joint problems (i.e. the small joints located between and behind adjacent spinal vertebrae) you may find back-bends such as Cobra aggravate your back pain – however, the forward flexion of Child’s Pose can provide relief.
Mentally / emotionally you may find the quiet introspection which Child’s Pose encourages challenging if you’re feeling particularly stressed or anxious – or if you find it difficult to switch off. However, by gently accepting whatever it is you’re experiencing without trying to change it, and by focusing on your breath you can begin to let go of some of the mental clutter which is disturbing your equilibrium and move to a sense of inner peace which is beneath the busyness.
Tips to help in this posture
Let your shoulders relax – away from your ears and away from the centre of your spine.
Knee problems – placing a folded blanket or cushions between your heels and buttocks and sitting on it will help you to relax, and will reduce any strain on your knees and hips.
If your forehead doesn’t reach the floor comfortably – create a platform with your fists on top of each other and rest there, or place a small cushion underneath your forehead.
Focus on your breath – with each flowing breath invite your body and mind to relax a little deeper. Let go, give in to gravity and feel tension melting away. Rest into the strong Earth beneath you.
Supported Child is a gorgeously restorative variation.
Take your knees wide, with your toes pointing towards each other, then place a yoga bolster, large cushion or pillow, between your knees and then relax forward onto it and let yourself be fully supported to invite tightness and tension to melt away from your lower back, spine and shoulders.
Supporting yourself like this, and with a folded blanket / cushion between your buttocks and heels, may also be a good idea if you have sacroiliac pain / instability or painful knees. The extra support will help because as you relax your body weight will begin to pull you deeper into the pose which could aggravate the discomfort.
Take your practice deeper
As you rest in Child’s Pose, start to focus in to a circle of energy flowing through your body.
Let your awareness follow your breath – breathe in up the front of your body to the crown of your head and as you breathe out follow the breath over the crown and down the back of your body along your spine to its base.
Again, breathe in up the front of your body and out down your spine … and so on for a few minutes.
Tune in to this beautiful flow; this circle of energy. Feel held, nourished, supported by this circle of energy – and you rest, deeply still, in its centre.
If you’d like to explore your yoga practice in more depth then consider a 1-2-1 with me – yoga tailored to your needs to enable you to practise at home with confidence and safety.
I teach six public classes a week as well as offering private 1-2-1 tuition, with a programme of workshops to come in 2015. Check out my yoga class timetable to find out more and make a booking enquiry.
Other posts in my ‘Listen to your body in…’ series