Sometimes adulting is hard. Like really hard. So I wasn’t surprised to hear that October 12th is International Moment of Frustration Day.
At first, I thought we should all celebrate by throwing a collective tantrum. But then I thought, nah, we can do better than that … this is Fit Bottomed Zen after all.
Here’s my proposal: the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed and frustrated by life, instead of losing your s*$t, why not just crawl under desk and assume the fetal position — or as it’s called in yoga, Child’s Pose. Trust me, there’s nothing quite like a bunch of deep, relaxed and supported breaths in this glorious pose to erase anxiety, alleviate stress and calm your mind.
Child’s Pose (Balasana) symbolizes surrender so use it anytime you need to set something down — whether it’s frustration, to-do lists, rage or your entire freaking day.
The Many Benefits of Child’s Pose
It brings you into alignment. Child’s Pose positions your spine into its primary curve — the way our spines were shaped when we were embryos and infants (I mean, it is called “Child’s Pose”). This C-curve feels safe and comfortable to your spine which triggers your nervous system to activate your body’s “rest and digest” functions — like slowing your heart rate, lowering your blood pressure and reducing the production of stress hormones. Yup, it’s like … magic.
It makes your low back happy. If your life requires you to sit for long periods of time, be on your feet most of the day, or otherwise operate as a human being in the world, odds are you’ve got some compression in your lower back (aka cranky lower back syndrome). Draping yourself over your legs in Child’s Pose helps to reverse the spinal alignment fails that cause compression and restore a healthy amount of space between your vertebrae.
It keeps your headspace occupied. If it feels like your breathing muscles are being compressed in this pose, it’s because they are. But this isn’t a bad thing. When there’s gentle pressure on your diaphragm, your brain has to shift attention away from the crap that’s bothering you to focus more on breathing fully.
It teaches you to breathe against resistance. Since our typical pattern is to breathe by expanding only the front of our bodies, Child’s Pose helps us to be smart and find a better way when faced with resistance. Instead of fighting against our legs, we have to breathe into the back of our ribs. There’s a valuable life lesson here: although it may feel sometimes like you’re being limited, if you just chill out and take a full, deep, 360-degree breath into your lungs, you’ll find all the space you need.
It forces you to just stop already. We’re always do do do but Child’s Pose is about not-doing — exactly what we need sometimes in our busy lives. It reminds us that rest is not only an essential part of our yoga practice but also our lives. Just. Stop.
How to Make It Your Own
- Knees and thighs together is the way to go if you’ve got low back stuff going on. It’s also great for digestion.
- Knees wide is fabulous for those of us with tight hips. The wide-leg positioning helps to open up your hips and reverse all that sitting. This is also great for those who need more room for their belly in order to rest comfortably, especially pregnant mamas.
- Extending your arms gives you more space to rest your arms and shoulders. To get a deeper arm stretch, spread your fingers wide, actively press your palms into the mat and lift your arms away from the mat.
- Elbows bent with your palms touching behind your neck will give you an ahhhhh-mazing shoulder stretch.
- Arms back with your palms up is your go-to variation when your shoulders aren’t happy with arms extended.
Head and Neck:
- Forehead on the mat is the most calming for your brain.
- Placing your forehead on a prop (or your hands) works well if you feel like you need a little lift to keep your face from being mashed into the mat.
- Cheek or temple to the mat is fine if forehead to the floor doesn’t feel good. Just be sure to spend equal time on both sides.
- A rolled blanket between butt and thighs is the way to go if your hips are really lifted off your heels or if your knees or legs are complaining.
- A blanket under your ankles helps provide some extra cushioning for the tops of your feet and ankles.
- A bolster (or pillows) under your torso is my personal favorite! It raises the floor to meet you so that you can completely release into the pose.
What’s your favorite way to get your Child’s Pose on? —Alison