Practicing and Teaching Yoga – Child’s Pose
Finding Comfort in Child’s Pose
I’ve been part of a few discussions on Child’s Pose lately, had some questions from Grads, and heard some key feedback on teaching, propping, and adjusting Child’s Pose. I’ve jotted down a few notes myself, but would love to hear from other practitioners and teachers on how you vary, prop, modify, and adjust Child’s Pose – so please add your thoughts, ideas, pics or links below:
If you enjoy a long delish session of Child’s Pose, you might not realize that for many, this pose is very uncomfortable, and for many reasons. Adapting the pose to each unique body can offer greater ease and comfort, plus an opportunity for students to get to know their bodies, and develop self-care strategies in class and in daily life.
Why Is Child’s Pose Uncomfortable?
Discomfort can arise in this pose due to a number of factors, sometimes more than one factor at a time, including:
- Tightness, injury or lack of mobility in tissues (muscles, connective tissue)
- Structural obstacles ie: shape of bones and joints
- Previous injury, surgery, or trauma to the ankles, knees, hips, spine
- Conditions like osteoarthritis in the joints, gastric reflux/discomfort, low/high blood pressure, and breathing difficulties
- Body shape; bellies, boobs, thighs etc.
To start, be willing to offer some options – in general knees together will allow for more spinal flexion, but less room for the groin, abdomen and chest. Knees apart generally creates deeper knee flexion, less spinal flexion, but more space for groin, abdomen and chest. Supporting the head is also an individual choice. Some can comfortably rest their forehead on the ground and take their arms by their sides, others feel better with the support of folded arms, two stacked fists to support the forehead, or bracing the weight on the elbows.
Props and Tools
Sometimes people can’t create the shape of Child’s Pose because their ankle can’t plantarflex (pointing your toes/ankles). In this case, placing a folded blanket or two to support the shins will reduce the amount of movement required from the ankles, and reduce the pressure on the joint. Because your knees and shins are higher, you’ll need to bring some support to your head – either folding your arms or a blanket under your forehead.
If discomfort arises from the knees due to bones pressing into the floor, a folded blanket or mat under the knees can help.
If discomfort arises from the knees being so deep in flexion (knee bending) you could put a folded blanket behind the knees (between the seat and heels) to reduce the amount of knee flexion you are asking for. Or, put a few bricks, a bolster, or a few rolled blankets between the heels to support the seat, and use the hands to prop up the head.
If your body is getting squished, you have trouble breathing, your head is tipping too far down for comfort, or you feel discomfort in your belly, breasts etc., prop both the seat and head – maybe some bricks under your seat between the heels, and a bolster to fold your arms onto to support your head. This can allow you to rest with less pressure between your abdomen/chest and your thighs
For full body support, widen the knees, place a bolster or two longways between your heels and knees, and lie along the bolster with your seat, belly, chest, arms and head supported.
If greater support would be more comfortable, get a chair. Prop your seat with blankets, bricks, or bolsters to a height that is comfortable, the fold your arms over the seat of a chair and rest your head on your arms.
If all of these don’t create more comfort, try alternative postures like lying on your back with knees to chest, Happy Baby Pose, or Morningstar on each side. Child’s Pose isn’t a requirement, just another option in moving, exploring, and resting your body – so feel free to get creative in finding a pose that’s right for your body today.
Hands-on assists can be delightful when this pose is comfortable, but painful when it’s not. If you want to offer the Child’s Pose Seat Press (or any other hands on assist) ask permission, tell the student what you are planning first, ease into your pressure, and keep checking in on comfort throughout the assist. I recommend using Consent Cards in all movement classes to ensure that your adjusts are welcome and safe – you can download free printable consent cards here
Do you have a tip, technique, prop, or variation that works for you or your students – tell us about it here: