By Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
We have all seen a happy baby holding its toes with its fingers swinging to and fro, side to side and enjoying its life as if it is the happiest part of the creation. In the final pose of Ananda Balasana the practitioner assumes this shape of a happy baby enjoying the pose to the optimum and hence the name. It is also called as blissful baby pose or the dead bug pose.
Ananda = happy
Bala = child
Asana = pose
This pose is a great hip opener and offers many health benefits to the practitioner. It has an enormous ability to calm your body and remove the stress from your body and also to keep you as happy as a baby.
Read – Balasana – Child’s Pose Method, Benefits, Side Effects, Ayurveda View
Preparation for Ananda Balasana
- Ananda Balasana i.e. happy baby pose should be done early morning for empty stomach.
- Even if it is practiced at evening or any other time of the day the stomach should be empty and so does the bladder and bowel.
- If it is practiced at any other part of the day other than early in the morning the practitioner should consume food 4-6 hours before practice. This will keep the stomach empty by the time he or she takes to the pose and the energy derived from the food will help in performing the pose easily.
Read – Halasana – Plough Pose, How To Do, Benefits, Effect on Doshas
Method of doing Ananda Balasana
Positioning for the Asana
- Lie flat on your back comfortably on a yoga mat in supine position.
Performing and getting to the Ananda Balasana
- Inhale and lift both your legs up.
- Bring both your knees close to your chest. Here both your knees are flexed.
- Allow your hands to pass between your thighs. Now hold your big toes by wrapping first two fingers around big toes. Make sure that arms are pulled through the insides of knees as you hold toes.
- Now gently open up hips and widen your legs. Here you have opened knees slightly wider than your torso. You would have also brought your knees closer to your armpits. This would deepen the stretch.
- Making sure that head is comfortably placed on the floor slowly tuck your chin into the chest.
- At the same time press your tailbone and sacrum on to the floor even as you press your heels up, pulling back with your arms.
- When you slowly pull your legs up with your hands holding your toes, your ankle and knee are in one straight line and your shins are perpendicular to the floor. Flex through the heels. Flex your feet such that your soles face the ceiling.
- Now press both the shoulders and your neck down to the floor. Make sure that your whole back and the spine are pressing against the floor.
- With gentle movements, push your feet up into your hands and pull them down with your hands to create resistance. Flex your feet. As you bring your thighs into your torso and towards the floor, lengthen your spine.
- Breathe normally. Hold in the pose for about 30-60 minutes.
Release from the asana
If you find it difficult to hold your feet or toe, perform the pose by looping the middle arch of your foot with a Yoga strap.
You may arch your tailbone towards the ceiling while in pose but you need to keep your tailbone pressed to the floor to make sure that the flexibility of your hips increase.
Science behind the pose
Happy Baby Pose helps to awaken, energize and control our energies through different principles of Pranayama. If these energies are correctly channelized they will have immense positive benefits on the body and mind. It brings your mind to a higher level of consciousness and awareness. It also prepares you to go into a state of meditation.
This child is ready to be born yet again in the form of an inspiration, a creative energy or a different experience and bring a positive and happy change in our lives.
It promises and aims at bringing the same joy and expression into us just as the babies display while lying on their backs and happily play with their feet ignoring about everything around. We should know that immaterial of the age we are in, there is always a child within us.
When practiced regularly this pose will open up your mind to experiences of joy and innocence and bring you into awareness of discovering that bustling divine child within you waiting to surface.
Read – Health Benefits Of Yoga: Mind And Body
- Gives a good stretch to your back, spine, inner groins, inner thighs and hamstrings
- Lengthens your spine
- It is a good exercise for your back muscles and the muscles surrounding your spine
- It strengthens your arms, biceps, legs and back
- It strengthens the muscles of your chest, abdomen, thighs and groins and triceps, biceps, hamstrings and calves and hence reduces the risk of injuries in these areas.
- It is a great hip opener, brings greater awareness to the hip joints
- Reduces stiffness in your lower back and hips
- It also opens up the shoulders and chest
- Releases the tension trapped in the lower back ache
- Relaxes the sacrum
- Relieves lower back pain and discomfort
- Compresses the stomach, massages the digestive organs
- Helps in reducing the heart rate and brings it to balance
- Relaxes and calms the mind,
- Relieves stress and fatigue
- Prepares your body for performing other seating poses
- This pose is similar to the reclining squat pose. Hence it is useful for those having trouble performing squats.
Read – How To Do Pranayama – A Simple Pranayama Technique
- Balasana – Child Pose
- Virasana – Hero Pose
Follow Up Poses
- Adho Mukha Shvanasana – Downward Facing Dog Pose
Use wall for support if you find it difficult to take into the pose directly. Do this until you are comfortable doing the pose without support.
Use a belt, strap or exercise band to loop around your feet to hold feet if you are not able to reach feet with your hands.
Use thick rolled up blanket beneath your head.
You can also hold the back of your thighs or clasp under your knees with hands if you cannot hold your feet.
Instead of holding your toes you may hold the outside of each foot with corresponding hand. If you are doing its variant i.e. Dead Bug Pose, you may hold on to the inside of each foot.
Read – Types Of Pranayama – Effect on Health – Through An Ayurveda View-Point
Time to be spent doing Ananda Balasana
Hold in the final pose for 30 seconds to begin with. As you master the pose gradually you may increase the time of practice and extend it to 60 seconds. It should be done for at least 30 seconds for tapping optimum benefits.
Impact on Chakras
This pose activates Sacral Chakra i.e. Swadishthana Chakra and Muladhara Chakra. This balances body, mind and soul. Helps to get rid of all negative emotions and feel calm and relaxed. Gives immense positive energy as that of a child and enables you to be in a state of happiness and bliss. This positive energy helps in reducing anxiety, rejuvenates mind, helps to be creative and bestows pleasure and enjoyment.
- Those suffering from neck injury, use a thick folded blanket to support your head.
- Keep spine straight while in pose. This will avoid any kind of injury.
- Your neck will experience strain if your chin is raised during the pose due to your neck not being in contact with the mat. This is often caused by loss of flexibility. This strains you when you try to grab feet with your hands. If this happens, try to grasp ankles or shins.
- Avoid this asana during pregnancy and menstruation.
Read – Ayurvedic Diet And Lifestyle During Menstruation (Periods)
Impact on doshas and tissues
Impact on Doshas and its subtypes – Since happy child pose massages the digestive organs and keeps them healthy, it is good for samana vata and pachaka pitta. Since it brings the heart functions to balance, the pose has a balancing effect on avalambaka kapha and udana vata. The pose also relieves stress, calms the mind and enhances our awareness, it is good for prana vata, sadhaka pitta and tarpaka kapha functions. This is also achieved by balancing effect of the pose on the sacral and root chakras. Since the pose activates these chakras, it also has a calming and balancing effect on the apana vata functions.
Impact on tissues – Since this pose stretches and strengthens the muscles, lengthens and stretches the spine, opens up the hips, shoulders and chest, relaxes the sacrum and relieves back pain and discomfort it is beneficial for the muscle and bone tissue and joints and also the channels transporting muscle and bone tissues.