For many of us, this asana possesses a deep physical and psychological memory of our time as infants. The shape of the pose is useful for many reasons, but in particular, it forces you to confront your attitudes and patterns of breathing, the health of your organs, and your level of awareness in moving from the abdomen. It can be very simple pose physically, yet it requires patience and the ability to surrender to gravity and a state of non-doing.
In Balasana, the shape of the pose forces the front of the rib cage to compress and causes an internal resistance to full, frontal breathing, which is the adopted pattern for most of us. In this resistance, you will confront—possibly for the first time—the notion of breathing somewhere other than the front of your lungs, or in such a way as to avoid distending your belly as you inhale. As the frontal ribs are compressed, the unyielding presence of the internal organs and the compression of the abdomen trapped against the thighs limit the diaphragm, sometimes resulting in feelings of claustrophobia, nausea, or even fear. This further precludes soft, even breathing.
One important thing
to be constantly kept in mind when doing Child’s pose is the regulation of the breath.
It should be slow, thin, long, and steady: breathing through both nostrils with a rubbing sensation at the throat and through the esophagus, inhaling when coming to the straight posture, and exhaling when bending the body.
Slowing the inhalation and exhalation forces the breath to lengthen, and by the very nature of elongation, the vital force of the breath flows more fluidly. As it flows, your body operates as a conduit for the movement of subtle energy, or prana (life force) to circulate throughout your entire being. Like water, your breath ripples outward and manifests in a dynamic flow that is smooth in circulation.
As you continue inhaling in Child's pose, the fullness of your breath moves behind the heart, filling the back of the lungs and softening the spine. As the thoracic ribs expand slightly, feel the skin across your shoulder blades stretching. The energy of the frontal chest and ribs should be still. As you exhale, release the weight of your abdominal organs, soften the diaphragm, and surrender the arms, feeling their weight pulling down on the shoulders and collarbones.
The release of the organs draws your energy down into the pelvic floor, which in effect rebounds up and triggers subtle movement in the spine. With practice, you will notice more space in the abdomen as the organs become toned and supple. The pattern of breathing into your back will become familiar, and your spine will elongate freely as your breath works slowly to expand and release the tension in your ribs.
Although very basic in nature, Child's Pose will help you develop a broader understanding of the breath and allow you to recognize the role your organs play with the subtle energies of your body. While it may not be a physically challenging posture, Balasana will help you cultivate the attitude necessary for deeper practice.