Although happy baby pose (ananda balasana in Sanskrit) isn’t a traditional posture in the lexicon of “real” yoga poses, it’s one worth doing either at the beginning of your practice and/or the end. Anytime you do anything that has you lying on the floor, you have an opportunity to relax, which can help balance the nervous system.
Feeling the back of your body against the floor creates a sense of support. Being grounded (literally), coupled with the stretching of your inner thighs, groin, and spine, induces a release of tension, which can help put you at ease. Striking the pose of a happy baby, with its chubby little legs and fat feet, is also fun and reminds us not to take yoga poses too seriously.
How to Perform Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana)
- Lie down on your mat, bend your knees, and place your feet flat on the floor with your hands at your sides.
- Explore the movement of your pelvis by alternating back and forth from a posterior tilt (tucking your tailbone up toward the ceiling) to an anterior tilt (extending your lower back).
- After moving from one tilt to the other, find a neutral pelvis position by moving your sit bones forward in the direction of your feet while maintaining some engagement in your abdomen.
- Draw your knees toward your chest, grab the backs of your thighs, and gently move your knees apart, lifting the soles of your feet toward the ceiling.
- Reach your arms between your legs, and grab the outer edges of your feet. You want your feet to be even from the inner edges to the outer edges, as if standing on the ceiling.
- Pull your knees closer toward your chest, and bring your head, shoulders, and the backs of your triceps down toward the floor.
- Without forcing it, move deeper into the stretch by gently bringing your inner thighs down beside your ribs.
- Take a few long and soft breaths, feeling your back spread on to the mat as you simultaneously spread your collarbone wide across your chest.
- Slowly bring your knees back together, and lower your feet back to the floor.
Tips for Doing Happy Baby Pose
- Rather than thinking one pelvic orientation is right and one is wrong, consider the benefits of both. Brent Laffoon, instructor in Openfit’s Yoga52 series, says, “Sometimes retaining the lumbar curve feels right, other times pressing it down into the floor can relieve lower-back tension.”
- Upon reaching for your feet, you can also play with holding them along their inner edges. Laffoon prefers grabbing the outer edges: “This helps keep the shoulders open, which allows for more access to thoracic extension.”
How to Make Happy Baby Pose Easier
If you can’t reach your feet, use two straps, looping one around each foot.
How to Make Happy Baby Pose Harder
While holding the outer edge of one foot, extend your other leg straight toward the floor. Then work on making the pelvis level, from front to back and side to side. This can be especially challenging because one leg will be in deep flexion while the other is extended.
Take your practice further with Openfit’s Yoga52, a collection of 52 elegantly produced yoga classes from beginner to expert taught by five of the world’s leading yoga instructors.