Like a lot of us, living in this pandemic has made me feel vulnerable when all I want is to feel safe. In episode #14 of The Prana + Patchouli Podcast, I talk about how we can turn to our yoga practice to nurture the connection with our inner child and go inwards to find a sense of safety and serenity. I'll show you how a simple asana like Child's Pose can help you create true peace and wellbeing - both on your mat and out in the world.
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Simply being is the best kind of medicine and Child’s Pose is a true resting pose. It’s usually practised in between stronger poses in long, sweaty flow classes, but it offers so much magic on its own. Being in close proximity to the earth is grounding and nourishing and it’s a precious place to retreat when things feel overwhelming. Still, I think it’s often overlooked and a little bit neglected, so that’s why I’m shining a light on it in this episode.
I’m going to guide you into the cosiest and most comfortable version of Child’s Pose, but if you can’t practise with me now, that’s okay. Just listen, visualise yourself in the pose and make time for this later. You’ll be so glad you did!
Find a soft space on the floor or roll out your yoga mat. You’ll need up to 3 blankets, a block and a bolster. If you don’t have yoga props at home, grab anything you have around the house that mimics the shape of the props. And, of course you can do this pose without any props at all!
Fold one of your blankets into a rectangle big enough to cushion your knees, shins and ankles. Place it towards the bottom of your mat and kneel on it. Open your knees wide and bring your big toes together. Sit back on your heels. If your hips don’t reach or you feel any discomfort in your knees, you can support your hips, making more space for your knees as well. Slide a folded blanket or a block in between your bum and your heels, or roll it in between your thighs and calves. If you feel discomfort in your ankles, you can use the same kind of support beneath them. I’m sure I don’t need to say this, but if you’ve adapted the pose and you’re in any sort of pain, even with the support, then please come out right away.
Bring a bolster in between your knees and relax your torso onto it. If this feels too low, you can place a block underneath the top of the bolster to create a gentle incline. The goal is to find as much softness as you can here.
Stretch your arms out in front of you and let them fall wherever they feel most comfortable. Hug your bolster or try turning your palms up towards the sky as this encourages the fronts of the shoulders to soften towards the floor. For even more nourishment, you can roll up small towels and relax your arms there.
Turn your cheek to one side and be sure to switch to the opposite side, holding for the same amount of time to balance out your neck. Or, you can rest your forehead on your bolster (as long as you can breathe easily!) When your torso and head are supported like this, Child’s Pose can relieve lower back and neck pain - something I appreciate a lot!
Another nice tip is to fold your third blanket and place this on the back of your pelvis to add extra weight. This gives an additional sense of grounding, support and calm. It also helps draw your awareness inwards.
When your body is supported this way from every angle, it sends a signal to your brain and your nervous system that you’re safe.
Make the most of this time in stillness and give yourself permission to relax and be held here.
If you’re practising without props, simply open your knees wide, bring your big toes together and stretch your arms out in front of you, relaxing your elbows and shoulders. Melt your chest and belly down in between your thighs, your heart dripping towards the ground and the weight of your pelvis surrendering to gravity.
This variation might serve you if you’re pregnant as it gives you space to relax your belly in between your legs, but you may wish to skip it all together. Listen to your body and follow what feels right for you.
Place your forehead on the mat. The gentle pressure on your ‘third eye’ centre, or the spot in between your eyebrows, calms and soothes your brain, slows your thoughts and guides your attention inwards which connects you with your intuition.
In the stillness, you learn to listen and trust the guidance that’s always available to you, helping you find a sense of safety and serenity from within.
Another modification is to bring your knees and feet together, forehead to the floor and relax your arms close beside you, with your palms up towards the sky.
The physical shape of the pose is that of a vulnerable child who wants to feel safe. That’s why it’s physically, mentally, emotionally and even spiritually comforting. As well as stretching your hips, thighs, ankles and lower back, Child’s Pose helps to heal stress and fatigue. It’s a forward bend which can also ease anxiety as the downward-facing direction of the pose is grounding and soothing for your body.
You can stay here anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes, depending on what kind of medicine you need in the moment. It could be a simple pause, a total reset for your nervous system, a space to get grounded or a few breaths to connect with your inner knowing.
One thing to be aware of is that we don’t always breathe consciously into the back body here. Child’s Pose gives you the opportunity to inflate your upper back with breath and “puff up” the back of the torso. This benefits both the endocrine and nervous systems.
As you breathe fully into your back body, you’ll nourish the kidneys, which are the seat of fear in our energetic bodies, as well as the adrenal glands, the little sacs that sit on top of the kidneys and regulate our body’s response to stress.
You can simply breathe your way back into balance.
Now you can probably see why I love Child’s Pose so much! It’s a simple way to calm your mind, come home to your body and restore feelings of safety and serenity within your soul. Regularly integrating this pose into your practice will help you create true peace and wellbeing, both on your mat and out in the world.
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