Sometimes you just need to be lulled and cared for. Happy Baby pose is like being rocked in a cradle and soothed from the inside out. Ananda Balasana in Sanskrit, Happy Baby is often held for at least a minute to help loosen the lower back, hips, groin and hamstrings.
Getting Into the Pose
- Starting on your back, bring the knees to the chest.
- Bring the knees toward the shoulders and grab hold of the back of the thighs, on the hamstrings or behind the knees.
- Allow the feet to stretch toward the ceiling, keeping the knees bent and spread wider than hip distance.
- Keeping the head on the ground and the gaze at the knees, draw the tailbone toward the ground and feel the entire spine long on the ground.
- Gently rock side-to-side if it feels comfortable, giving your back a massage.
Deepening the Pose
To get a fuller stretch in the groin, outer hips and hamstrings, bring the hands to the feet. The hands can grab hold of the outsides of the feet, the toes, or the middle and index fingers can wrap around the big toes. Pull the feet toward the ground, continuing to reach the heels toward the sky. The tailbone should stay as close to the ground as possible.
To get more into the hamstrings, straighten the legs, keeping hold of the feet or the back of the thighs.
Happy Baby is a great pose for the whole back side of the body. It particularly stretches the legs and the lower back, but can be used to massage the middle back and stretch the shoulders.
Because Happy Baby is a relaxed pose, it very easily works to calm the mind and the muscles. Holding this pose longer can create a greater sense of relaxation.
Contraindications and Modifications
Pregnant women should consult their doctors before practicing yoga, and pregnant women beyond the first trimester should not do any poses that require them to lie flat on their backs, as this can restrict blood flow.
Those with knee or lower back injuries should be careful with range of motion and to follow the general rule that if it hurts, don't do it.
To modify the pose, place a strap around the balls of the feet and hold an end of the strap in each hand.
If the head lifts or the neck arches backward, use a blanket or a folded towel under the head for comfortable support.
Relax and Restore
Happy Baby is a great pose to hold and breathe into. Many sequences call for it at the end of a practice as it is very calming and nurturing. Hold the pose for at least 30 seconds to give the body as much benefit as possible.
Because gravity is helping here, there is little work to be done, so slow the breath and allow the body to accept the deep opening that's possible here.