Ananda balasana (ah-NAHN-duh bah-LAHS-anna), also known as the happy baby pose, stretches the inner groin and lower back while calming the mind.
Philosophy and Origin:
Dasharatha, the King of Ayodhya, was a famous warrior and a protector of dharma (life purpose). He had three wives and no children. He longed for an heir, and Mother Earth was seeking a protector to save her bounty from unscrupulous and devious desires. Tradition teaches that as the wick of dharma burns low, Vishnu the preserver uses birth to set things right again. Mother Earth’s call meant that Vishnu would return.
Each child’s birth was unusual. After performing a sacrifice that yielded a golden milk pudding, the king was instructed to share this bounty with his wives with the promise of fertility and children. Each of his wives became pregnant and would give birth to all of his children. It is often thought that the divine is born into us on a regular basis and unexpectedly, and we can understand this story as an allegory of how we treat our minds and bodies: avatars and other deities represent potentials waiting to be realized.
- Ananda: blissful, pure bliss
- Bala: baby
- Asana: pose
Keep your tailbone on the ground to allow length in your spine. If you notice your hips lifting up, reach behind your knees or to your shins instead of the bottoms of your feet.
- Opens and stretches the hips.
- Stretches the inner groins.
- Lengthens the spine.
- Strengthens the arms and shoulders.
- Relieves stress.
- Calms the mind.
Mudra: Kalesvara Mudra
Kalesvara mudra is believed to help shape and control the mind, calming us when we are flooded with thoughts. This mudra helps to slow the breathing rhythm down and all you to examine your situations from a new perspective.
Touch the pads of each middle finger to one another. Then, touch the first two knuckles of the index fingers together. Finally, touch both thumb pads together, bending the other two fingers gently inward. Keep your thumbs pointing towards your chest while spreading your elbows out.
As this pose is a clarifying exercise in stretching the body and relieving the mind, focusing on a chant such as So Hum will allow you to return to that simple state, recognizing who you are and what you are. This chant is often used as a simple meditation due to its unifying and repetitive nature.
So Hum, So Hum
Translation: I am that, that I am
- Childs pose | Balasana
- Heros pose | Viransana
Contraindications and Cautions:
This pose is intended as a gentle, relaxing shape, but you should still check with a doctor before performing the pose if you have any of the following conditions:
- Knee or ankle injuries.
- Extremely tight hips.
- Hold your ankles or shins.
- Place a blanket under your neck.
- Hold each foot with a yoga strap looped around the middle arch of each foot.
- Start on your back with your knees drawn in towards your chest.
- Grab hold of the pinky toe sides of your feet, with your elbows on the inside of your knees.
- Draw your shoulders toward the ground, tone your arms and flex your feet as you pull down on your feet.
- Draw your knees wide and toward your armpits and try to stack ankles above knees.
- Lengthen your lower back down to the ground.
- Stay here for up to one minute, and then release and draw your knees in to your chest.