Child's Pose (Balasana) - Your Anti-Thinking Buddy

by Sandra Radja

I admit, I used to find Yoga interludes frustrating.  If you train yourself to move efficiently from A to B and see the world as linear then breaking that momentum makes it feel like you might lose your train of adrenaline; that everything might unravel.  Lucky you if it does.

Childs pose releases tension in your shoulders, back and neck, reduces dizziness and fatigue, stretches the hips, thighs and ankles and reduces stress and anxiety. Child’s pose may be aptly named because of children’s tendency to retreat to this pose when feeling emotionally or physically overstimulated.  It can help to relieve sensitive tummies in kids and calm the mind from ADHD.  If you’re pregnant, have had hip surgery or suffer from acid reflux then seek appropriate modifications, which mostly involve spreading your legs wider to allow for baby bump and hips to feel at ease.

I have been incorporating child’s pose before Yoga Nidra to break that momentum from the outside world.  If I could I would create a door with magic hanging beads and once you entered it you would come into a softer dreamier more receptive world – much like the sunset hue you see in most 70’s flicks.  For some, calm breathing when you’re starting out can be difficult, so instead I use child’s pose to break that separation. 

The heat and wild wind that we create from driving (and thinking), engaging in discussion (and thinking), checking off the check-list (and thinking) creates a kind of matrix of buzziness in our frontal lobes. The earth element as described in Ayurveda embodies such qualities as cold, heavy, and dense.  Offering your minds to the earth will help to absorb those qualities; literally cooling it down and helping to ground it. 

Here’s a tip. Next time you’re engaged with someone that regularly tends towards emotional distraught don’t just tell them to calm down; gently encourage them into a regular practice of child’s pose and deep breathing. It will help create that separation from the tornado in their mind into the magical world of peace.

The trick is in creating pressure on the forehead (ideally in connection with the hips touching the heels).  If you can’t get your forehead to touch the ground then use your clenched fists to rest upon.  The vagus nerve runs across the forehead and is directly linked to the PNS (Parasympathetic Nervous System), which is responsible for the proper functioning of our heart, lungs, digestive system and many of our glands which all function better when relaxed.  If you roll your head from side to side it can also help to relieve sinus pressure. 

According to the blurb from the Mayo clinic online, vagus nerve stimulation is a treatment whereby a device is surgically implanted under the skin on your chest to connect to the left vagus nerve.  When activated it sends electrical signals to your brainstem, which then direct signals to the rest of the brain.  They are using it to treat chronic pain, depression, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and even Alzheimer’s disease.  Folks that suffer from these conditions appear to have low levels of a neurotransmitter called GABA, which can be increased through this stimulation.  A healthy vagal tone indicates a slight heart rate increase on inhaling and a reduced heart rate on exhaling.  Deep diaphragmatic breathing is the key to a healthy vagas nerve to reduce the pressure on the heart in times of stress and regularly doing child’s pose can help to naturally calm a situation down to help connect to that breath, without the surgery.

Life is simple and you have options.  Try it for a month and see.