It seems fitting to start my pose of the moment series with Child’s Pose, Balasana, since this is the generally the first pose taught to new yoga students. Child’s Pose is taught as a resting pose, a place to return to if a beginning student feels overwhelmed by the practice.
Physically, Balasana relaxes the muscles of the front of the body while passively stretching the muscles along the back of the body. The passive stretch occurs in the quadriceps, infraspinatus, latissimus dorsi and trapezius muscles. It can also passively stretch some of the shoulders muscles depending on whether the arms are stretched forward or relaxed alongside the body. Balasana opens the back of the thorax and the lungs while allowing the heart rate to slow down.
Mentally, Balasana allows our mind to return to our body. The internal focus of the pose eliminates distractions from outside since, while in the pose, the eyes can only see the body and the mat. It allows the practitioner time to focus on the breath and to feel the sensation of the mat on their forehead, hands, arms and legs. This brings a strong sense of grounding and assists in bringing the mind into the present moment.
Iyengar wrote that the real importance of yoga asanas lies in the way they train and discipline the mind. Child’s Pose is the beginning of this realization by shutting out external stimuli, creating internal awareness and allowing the body to be restored through passive stretching.