Child's Pose - Balasana

How (and When) to Rest in Yoga

How to Do Child's Pose - Balasana
Child's Pose - Balasana. Ian Hooton/Science Photo Library/Getty Images

Type of pose: Resting, forward bend

Benefits: Gentle stretch for the back, hips, thighs and ankles. Can help relieve back pain.

Child's pose is a simple posture with a big part to play in your yoga practice. Aside from being a nice way to gently stretch various parts of your body, child's pose is yoga's most important resting posture. It's a chance to stop what you are doing, reassess your position, reconnect with your breath, and prepare yourself to move forward.

In class, the teacher may offer the opportunity to rest in child's pose after a fast-paced vinyasa sequence, a long hold in a pose like downward facing dog or plank, or an attempt at a challenging inversion. These are all examples of a good time to rest, but when to take child's pose is really up to your own discretion.

That means you can move into this posture anytime you deem it necessary. It's your time out, your get-out-of-jain-free card, your golden ticket. No teacher with any experience is going to stop you from doing child's pose any time you want. 

That gives you a measure of power. Learning to use it wisely is the part of your developing practice where you listen to your body's inner voice and do what it tells you. Your body will tell you when to rest. It might need different things on different days and that's ok. Keeping your ear finely tuned to the messages your body is sending you and respectfully responding to them is the greater lesson that child's pose has to offer.


1. From downward facing dog, drop your knees to the floor.

2. Spread your knees as wide as your mat, keeping the tops of your feet on the floor with the big toes touching.

3. Bring your belly to rest between your thighs and your forehead to the floor. You can also turn your head to one side with your cheek resting on the floor.

If you choose to do that, it's a good idea to switch to the other cheek about halfway through your rest.

4. There are two possible arm variations. Either stretch your arms in front of you with the palms toward the floor or bring your arms back alongside your thighs with the palms facing upwards. Do whichever feel more comfortable to you. If you've been doing a lot of shoulder work, the second option feels nice.

5. Stay as long as you like, eventually reconnecting with the steady inhales and exhales of your breath.


1. You can choose to keep the knees together instead of separating them if that is more comfortable for you. Likewise, you can curl the toes under if it is painful to have the feet flat.

2. You can go for a more active version of the pose by engaging your arms when the are outstretched in front of you. Press into the palms a keep the arms straight with your elbows off the floor.

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