The Happy Baby Pose is a stretch common to yoga and Pilates. It is known as the Ananda Balasana in yoga.
Yoga focuses on increasing flexibility, breathing, strength and improving mental well-being. Pilates also includes some yoga-like movements that enhance the range of motion, balance and flexibility and helps strengthen and tone muscles.
The Happy Baby Pose is common to both types of workouts because of its gentle, calming motion and numerous health benefits.
What is the Happy Baby Pose?
The Happy Baby Pose or Ananda Balasana derives its name from three Sanskrit words - ananda meaning happy, 'bal' meaning child or baby and 'asana' meaning pose.
The happy baby pose is a common movement that babies perform when they are happy. Lying on their back, they reach for their toes and feet and then rock back and forth.
The Happy Baby Pose aims to calm and relax your inner child the same way it does for babies. You can perform this pose any time to give yourself a nice, soothing treat.
Happy Baby Pose: Technique and Correct Form
The Happy baby pose can be performed anywhere; all you need is a yoga mat and a carpeted or padded surface. You may use a small pillow, towel, pad or folded blanket under your neck for support.
- Lie down comfortably on your mat, all the while maintaining a neutral spine position.
- Try to sustain the natural curve of your spine.
- Pull your knees towards your chest, and raise your legs skyward while keeping your hips on the ground. Your hip sockets should be soft.
- Keep your neutral spine and tailbone on the mat.
- Flex your feet, and wrap your two index fingers around your big toes, pulling down lightly.
- Your feet should be facing the ceiling as your hips open up, allowing your knees to come closer to your chest as you relax.
- If reaching your big toes is a challenge for you, you can also wrap your hands around the outside of the foot ,and grab them around the arch.
- Breathe deeply, and relax. Enjoy the deep stretch in your hamstrings, hips and groin.
- You may roll a bit from side to side so as to let your back release naturally on the floor. Recall your happy memories from your childhood. Just be a happy baby.
Benefits of Happy Baby Pose
The happy baby pose is a simple, easy and relaxing position that allows you to open up your hips deeply and stretch your hamstrings and groin. It will help you release your back and sacrum.
The happy baby pose is one of the best positions to help relieve stress and fatigue, calm you down and centre you.
The pose mimics a baby's - when it is happy and starts touching its toes while lying on its back and playing with them. The simple motion is possible, as a baby's spine is much more relaxed and flexible. For you too, the pose will serve to make your spine flexible and help relax your muscles.
The founder of Pilates, Joseph Pilates, was very inspired by the movement of babies, so the Happy Baby Pose is also advised in Pilates.
Performing this exercise before bedtime and/or after waking up will help you sleep better and go through your day with a greater calmness and energy.
The Happy Baby Pose offers some benefits, which are listed below:
1) It reduces and helps get rid of lower back pain.
2) It realigns and stretches the spine.
3) It stretches your hamstrings.
4) It opens the inner thighs, hips and groin.
5) It eases stress and anxiety.
6) It gets rid of tiredness and fatigue.
7) It lowers your heart rate.
Understanding the correct form and common mistakes while doing this exercise will help you obtain the maximum benefits of the Happy Baby Pose:
1) Make sure your shoulders are touching the floor and your legs are reasonably parallel to the ground. Initially, that might be difficult to attain if you have very tight hips.
If you are unable to attain the position without raising your shoulders, modify where you place your hands (place them near your ankle instead of grabbing your toes) so that your chest is open, and your shoulders are on the mat.
2) Maintain a neutral neck, and make sure it is in contact with the mat; else your chin might be lifted, and your neck might get strained or injured.
To avoid that, try to grab your ankles instead of your toes (if it is difficult for you to reach your toes. You can also try placing a rolled towel or blanket underneath your head for support.
The Happy Baby Pose is an excellent exercise that will help you relax in the evening or after a gruelling workout. Apart from its tremendous physical benefits, it also offers great calmness of mind. The happy baby pose is one of the simplest pleasures of life.
Please avoid the Ananda Balasana if you are pregnant or have a knee or neck injury. As the exercise requires you to lie on your back, it might decrease blood circulation to your fetus. So it's advisable to avoid it till you have given birth.
Poll : Have you ever done the Happy Baby Pose alongside a baby?