Happy Baby Pose (also referred to as Ananda Balasana) is a stretch common to yoga and Pilates.
Yoga is a mind and body exercise that focuses on flexibility, breathing, and strength. Its goal is to improve mental well-being. Pilates includes yoga-like movements to improve range of motion, balance, and flexibility, but it also strengthens and tones muscles.
The Happy Baby Pose is often incorporated into these two types of workouts because of its gentle, calming motion and many health benefits.
What is the Happy Baby Pose, though? Here’s a look at how to do the pose, as well as benefits of this movement.
What is the Happy Baby Pose?
Happy Baby Pose is a gentle and soothing pose that’s great for increasing relaxation and stretching the body. It involves lying on your back and rolling from side to side.
The pose is appropriately named “happy baby” because while you’re in this position — lying on your back and holding your feet — you’ll resemble a baby lying happily on its back. Who hasn’t stumbled upon a baby in this position while lying on a blanket or in a crib?
Happy Baby Pose is a relatively easy movement, so it’s ideal for beginners. Instructors often include the pose near the beginning or end of a yoga or Pilates classes due to its calming effect.
How to do the Happy Baby Pose
Here’s how to do the Happy Baby Pose, step-by-step:
Step 1: Lie flat on your back on the floor or a mat.
Step 2: With your head flat on the mat, bend your knees toward your chest at a 90-degree angle. Face the soles of your feet up toward the ceiling.
Step 3: Reaching forward, grab and hold the inside or outside of your feet. Spread your knees apart, shifting them toward your armpits.
Step 4: Flex your heels into your hand and gently rock from side-to-side (like a happy baby). Remain in this position for several breaths, inhaling and exhaling deeply.
Tips for doing this pose correctly
Although the Happy Baby Pose is an excellent way to stretch and relieve tension, make sure you avoid common mistakes to benefit the most from this exercise.
It’s important that your shoulders remain on the floor or mat at all times, so don’t raise them as you reach forward. If you can’t keep your shoulders flat, instead of grabbing and holding the inside or outside of your feet, grab and hold your ankles or shins.
Likewise, keep your head on the mat to avoid a neck strain. If this is difficult, place a rolled blanket or towel underneath your neck for support. Or, grab your ankles or shins instead of your feet.
If you’re a beginner and can’t grab your feet, hold a yoga strap around the arch of your feet to achieve this pose.
Due to the nature of this pose, it’s not recommended if you have a neck or knee injury. It’s also not recommended for pregnant women.
Although it’s safe for pregnant women to participate in yoga, this particular pose is discouraged after the first trimester. It involves lying on your back, which might reduce circulation to the fetus.
Health benefits of the Happy Baby Pose
The Happy Baby Pose can stretch the inner thighs, hamstrings, and groin, and release the hips and back, resulting in more flexibility and mobility.
Yet, the positive effects of a Happy Baby Pose extend beyond increased flexibility and mobility.
Happy Baby Pose benefits include:
opens the inner thighs, hips, and groin
reduces lower back pain
realigns and stretches the spine
eases stress and anxiety
improves tiredness and fatigue
stretches the hamstring
lowers heart rate
History of the Happy Baby Pose
The origin of Ananda Balasana is Sanskrit, which is a sacred, ancient language in Hinduism. In this language, Ananda means “happy,” bal “means “child or baby,” and asana means “pose.”
While on their backs, many babies happily reach for their toes and feet and then rock back and forth. It’s a simple, yet gentle and soothing movement. The same way this pose can calm and relax babies, it can do the same for your inner child.
Are you looking to release tension in your back, hips, or thighs? Do you want calmness of mind? If so, incorporating Happy Baby Pose can have a tremendous benefit on your emotional and physical health.
It’s important that you understand the proper way to complete this movement to avoid injury and to get the most out of the exercise. As a beginner, you might have to modify the movement, but that’s OK.
Keep in mind that Happy Baby Pose isn’t recommended if you’re pregnant, so you’ll have to wait until after giving birth to try this pose. In the meantime, though, you can take advantage of safe pregnancy exercise routines to stretch and relax.