Where do we begin? Balasana is one of most people’s favorite poses. It feels nurturing. Like a cocoon. Especially if you put a pillow under your chest or head. With knees apart, and toes touching, the wide-kneed child’s pose is an excellent modification to the traditional child’s pose for pregnant women, or others with more girth in the belly. In the standard hatha version of balasana, the knees remain together and the heart sinks toward the thighs with no props.
Any variation of child’s pose is a comfortable back stretch that stimulates multiple pressure points. The yin version compresses the meridians that run along the backs of the legs, as well as the abdominals, when held for several minutes.
Paul Grilley has authored several books on Yin Yoga. One of those was part of my introduction to Yin, back in 2009. On a physical level, Grilley explains one of the main differences between yin and yang approaches to a posture. “The moral of the story is that in order to stretch the joints of the spine it must be rounded. All forward bends can be done with spine rounded or straight … if the intention is to stretch the joints of the spine then the spine should be rounded.”
“Consider the lower spine. Eighty percent of the Western world’s populace complains of severe lower back pain at one time or another,” says Grilley. “And the people most afflicted by bad backs are sedentary office workers. The reason for this is that sitting in a chair compresses the discs in the lower spine. This means the discs are flattened and the bones move closer together. If the bones move closer together the ligaments can contract to a shorter length. Shorter ligaments create less mobility and more compression. This means the discs degenerate further and the cycle goes on.”
As someone with lifelong low back issues, I find this pose to be of great relief.
Sarah Powers is one of the nation’s leading Yin Yoga experts. My style is based significantly on her teachings. Taking about energetic benefits, she says a benefit of forward folds such as balasana is that “… pressure to the lower belly stimulates prana flow there … This lower abdomen region is the domain of the major energy center or chakra called the Svadhisthana which controls the reproductive organs.”
For more about the benefits of Yin Yoga in general, visit my blog spot, www.TheNamasteCounsel.com/yoga-blog, and enter the words Yin Yoga in the search window. As always, consult your yoga therapist to determine which poses are best suited for your particular physical and emotional needs.