How To Do Child's Pose for Pilates and Yoga

The child’s pose.
The child’s pose. Credit: Mike Kemp/Getty Images

Child's pose can be done at any point during a workout. Use child's pose to relax, stretch the back, and release the hips. In the child's pose, you will feel a gentle stretch in the lower body from the lower back to the ankles. It is appropriate for everyone, from beginners through advanced exercisers.

Originally a yoga move, child's pose is one of the exercises that yoga and Pilates share. In yoga it is also called Balasana, from Sanskrit, literally bala (child) and asana (posture or seat).

It is also known as Child's Resting Pose. You can read more about the how Pilates and yoga work together in the Pilates - Yoga Connection.

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time Required: 5 minutes.
  • Contraindications: avoid this exercise if you have a knee injury that makes it difficult to kneel. You will want to avoid it if you have diarrhea, heartburn or are pregnant.

What You Need to do the Child's Pose Exercise

Child's pose is a mat exercise. You will need a Pilates mat or padded surface. You can do this exercise at home, at the gym or in the Pilates or yoga studio.

Here's How to do the Child's Pose Exercise

  1. Begin kneeling on your mat with your butt on your heels.
  2. With your toes together, open your knees to at least hip distance apart.
  3. Lean forward and drape your body over your thighs so that your forehead rests on the floor.
  4. Reach your arms out in front of you. Alternately, you can leave your arms along your sides. Try both and see which feels best to you.
  1. Breathe deeply and relax. Release any tension you might be feeling in your back, neck, or hips. Give this exercise time to work. It can take a few minutes to allow your body to deepen into the stretch.

Tips for the Child's Pose Exercise

  1. Think of your spine as soft wax that is lengthening over your thighs, and dripping evenly off the front and back part of your body.
  1. Sometimes a rolled towel between the calf and back of the thigh makes this exercise more comfortable. If you have discomfort with the tops of your feet while performing it, place a pad there also. If you prefer, you can rest your forehead on a pillow, a pad or your hands.
  2. Child's pose is an exercise you can play with (naturally!). Notice how in the image above, the person in the foreground is stretching with her back a little flatter than the others. This can be valuable experimentation.
  3. Balasana is very much like a kneeling fetal position, which a fetus assumes in the womb during pregnancy. This hearkens us back to a time without stress, gently floating safe and warm in our mother's womb. You return to the very beginning of life, secure.
  4. In yoga, balasana is recommended for calming the brain and relieving stress. It is often used after doing a more challenging pose, including backbends.
  5. Child's Pose is one of the 4 Yoga Poses for Back Pain illustrated by our Yoga Expert. These four moves aim to develop spinal flexibility and strengthen the core and the spinal support muscles. The reasons why it is good for back pain is discussed in detail: Child's Pose for Back Pain.

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