What is the Happy Baby Pose?
A gentle hip-opener, the Happy Baby Pose is known as Ananda Balasana in Sanskrit. The posture reflects the joy and calmness seen in a baby. It is a calming and relaxing posture which provides a stretch to the back and hips. It is practiced by lying down on the back, holding the feet and gently moving from side to side. It is normally practiced towards the end of a class due to its calming effect on the mind and body.
Position type: Supine
Posture type: Hip-opener
Ideal for: Flexibility
Targets: Hips and back
Pose level: Beginner
How to prepare for Happy Baby Pose?
Since Happy Baby pose is normally practiced towards the end of a class, the body is already warmed up. However, when practiced separately, these are a few preparatory poses you can do.
Practice hamstring stretches and hip openers such as the Downward-facing Dog pose, Standing Forward Fold, Triangle Pose, High Lunge, Low Lunge, Bound Angle Pose, Garland Pose, Bow Pose and Pigeon Pose. The idea is to stretch and loosen up tight hamstrings so that accessing the pose is easier.
How to do Happy Baby Pose
Getting into the posture
- Lie down on your back on the mat. Keep the head flat on the mat.
- Bend the knees toward your chest at a 90-degree angle. Bring the feet up such that the soles of the feet are facing the ceiling.
- Now, grab the outside of the feet from the inside. Spread the knees apart so that they are towards the armpits.
- Hold the heels tight and rock the feet from side to side.
Getting out of the posture
- After staying in the posture for a few breaths, inhale and exhale deeply, releasing the legs and bringing them down.
- Stay in Savasana for a few breaths.
Key alignments in the Happy Baby Pose
Keep the shoulders and head on the mat at all times. When reaching for the feet, do not raise the shoulders or the head. If holding the feet is difficult, then grab the ankles or shin. You can also place a blanket underneath the neck for support.
What are the benefits of Happy Baby Pose?
The Happy Baby Pose stretches the inner thighs, hamstrings and groin region. It is effective in releasing the hips and back, thus improving flexibility and mobility. It helps reduce lower back pain, stretches and strengthens the spine, relieves stress and anxiety, tiredness and fatigue. It is also helpful in lowering the heart rate.
What are the contraindications of Happy Baby Pose?
Avoid practicing Happy Baby Pose if you have a neck, back or knee injury. In case of any hip or hamstring injury, avoid the posture. Pregnant women should also avoid the posture.
What are the counterposes of Happy Baby Pose?
Practice Child’s Pose for a minute or lay down in Savasana after practicing the Happy Baby Pose.
Variations of the Happy Baby Pose
- If flexibility is less and grabbing the feet is difficult, then use a yoga strap. Place it around the arch of the feet. You can also grab the ankles or shin.
- You can alternate between bending and straightening each leg, creating a gentle rocking movement.
- As flexibility improves, you will be able to push the thighs and knees further apart and towards the floor.
- Practice this as a core exercise by letting go of your feet and raising your arms between your legs. Inhale, lift your upper body, press your arms into your inner thighs and vice versa.
Advice for beginners
- Practice with the easier variation in the beginning. The benefits will be just as impactful and you will ensure you are avoiding injuries.
- Don’t skip warm-ups and preparatory poses even though this is a beginner-level posture as it can still be intense on the hips.
- Take deep breaths and maintain awareness on the hips and groin region. Be gentle and gradually deepen the stretch.
- Join an online yoga class to practice under the guidance of a certified teacher to avoid mistakes and injuries.