ANANDA BALASANA: HAPPY BABY POSE

I feel like this pose is called "happy baby pose" for a good reason. I always feel so refreshed and uplifted after I do this pose, and I think that with proper support, we all can enjoy its benefits:

  • opens the hips and inner thighs
  • massages the internal organs
  • relieves lower back pain
  • uplifts the mood
  • relieves stress
  • relieves fatigue
6CA5144D-F1B7-41C6-A474-F62E3879DBE0.jpeg
C3EA5FF8-62F7-440A-A258-9E6E4B802373.jpeg

TRADITIONAL VARIATION

To practice the traditional expression of happy baby pose, lie on your back and bend your knees into your chest. Separate the knees so it's as if you're trying to snuggle your knees into your armpits. If you're already feeling an intense stretch, stay right here.

To go deeper, you can grab the outer edges of your feet or you can hook the big toes with your index fingers and thumbs. Once you have a solid grip on your feet, begin to lift the heels up toward the sky. Your ankles should be in line with your knees. It can help to gently pull the feet in toward the midline while using the elbows against the insides of the knees to open the inner thighs. This creates an opposing force that protects your knees and deepens the stretch. Keep your shoulders relaxed, feeling both shoulder blades pressing into the earth. 

Hold this pose for ten deep breaths, or longer, depending on your comfort.

If you notice that your shoulders or your lower back are floating up off the floor, try one of the modifications below...

8FF60553-3114-4CA2-90CA-AB94C4212FA3.jpeg
6C428FBB-60C8-4BCF-8228-7B07283B0A57.jpeg

MODIFICATION: KNEE HUG

Instead of going all the way into the traditional expression of the pose, you can hang out with your arms wrapped around or behind your knees. This can give you all the same benefits of happy baby pose with less intensity. I like to do this version when I wake up in the morning to bring fresh circulation to my lower back and hips, but you can do it anytime of day.

361E61C1-3E49-43C5-923D-3B715C325857.jpeg

MODIFICATION: BOLSTER UNDER THE SACRUM

If you notice that your lower back is pulling up off the floor when you're in happy baby pose, try adding a bolster or a folded blanket under your sacrum. This allows you to fully relax into the pose and feel the entire spine grounding into the earth. If you have neck pain or injury, this variation may not be right for you, so you might want to consider one of the other modifications.

87F4DCAF-7AF7-4D11-A8F1-4761464646C6.jpeg

MODIFICATION: STRAP AROUND YOUR FEET

For this variation, you'll loop a strap around your feet instead of holding onto them with your hands. This helps to correct the most common problem that people have in happy baby pose: shoulders pulling up off the mat. It's important to keep the shoulders glued to the floor in order to protect the neck from strain. Adding the strap makes this much easier to achieve.

C8D3194B-0F90-4C17-9B99-13598A32898D.jpeg

MODIFICATION: ONE LEG AT A TIME

Instead of bringing both legs into happy baby at the same time, you can try stretching one side of your body at a time. You might notice that this makes the hips more willing to open. 

HOW DID IT GO?

If you tried any of these variations, I'd love to know how it went for you! Tag me on Instagram and use the hashtag #spoonieyogatribe in your photos for a chance to be featured on my page! Or post a photo in our private Facebook group to show off your progress!

UTTIHITA CHATURANGA DANDASANA: PLANK POSE

Plank pose can be a very physically demanding pose, one that we may be tempted to avoid if we have chronic pain or chronic illness symptoms. But there are ways we can modify it to make it more comfortable and less demanding, so that we can find the version of the pose that challenges us without completely exhausting ourselves. We don't want to miss out on the benefits of this pose! If you have sensitive wrists, these modifications will help you too.

5EF14890-9847-4E0C-9049-AFC1D0E0E5AC.jpeg

TRADITIONAL VARIATION

For the traditional expression of this pose, we'll start in table top pose. This way we can set up the arms first and then bring in the legs. The shoulders should be stacked directly over your wrists. Externally rotate the shoulders so that the inside creases of the elbows are facing the front of the mat. Keep a micro-bend in the elbows to prevent locking or hyperextension. Press firmly into all ten fingertips. Lengthen the tailbone and engage the core muscles. Finally, extend the legs back, coming onto the toes. Hold for as long as possible. 5-10 breaths is a great goal to start with. When you are finished, take rest in child's pose so your body can recuperate.

487D3E74-44FC-4B7E-B1CF-6F9F30AC02C1.jpeg

MODIFICATION #1: PLANK POSE ON FISTS

Instead of practicing plank pose with the hands flat, make fists and come onto the knuckles. Otherwise, your alignment will be the same. Practicing this way keeps the wrists straight and may help relieve wrist pain.

2DD4CACC-8582-4F70-B820-DE76F1830793.jpeg

MODIFICATION #2: FOREARM PLANK

This variation may also help those with sensitive wrists, but it can be more demanding on the shoulders. Begin in tabletop pose, then come down onto the forearms with the shoulders aligned over the elbows. Elbows are bent at a 90 degree angle. Lengthen the tailbone, engage the core muscles. When you are ready, extend the legs behind you and come onto the toes. 

96CDAA61-042D-422D-9324-F01C8D6D88D0.jpeg

MODIFICATION #3: HALF PLANK

Again, you'll start in tabletop pose with the knees together. Walk the hands forward slightly, then drop the hips to engage the core muscles. The toes can be pointed or you can come onto the toes, whichever feels more comfortable.

D359D85D-AE52-483F-A4E7-CBD76B7D962F.jpeg

MODIFICATION #4: PLANK AT THE WALL

This variation places significantly less weight on the arms and hands. Face the wall and place the palms against the wall shoulder width apart and at shoulder height. Walk the feet back a bit and come onto the toes so that you're leaning into the wall. This will help you to build strength. 

HOW DID IT GO?

If you tried any of these variations, I'd love to know how it went for you! Tag me on Instagram and use the hashtag #spoonieyogatribe in your photos for a chance to be featured on my page! Or post a photo in our private Facebook group to show off your progress!

UTTANASANA: STANDING FORWARD BEND

This inversion is one of the poses in sun salutations, and it comes with so many benefits:

  • stretches the hamstrings
  • stretches and lengthens the spine
  • may benefit scoliosis
  • stimulates the lymphatic system
  • stimulates healthy digestion + relieves gas
  • strengthens the circulatory system
2E4F5775-6A4A-43DC-9387-6BDC472B96B5.jpeg

TRADITIONAL VARIATION

From Tadasana, hinge at the waist and bend forward, reaching the fingertips toward the floor or grasping the backs of the legs. Tilt the pelvis forward and draw the lower belly in to create extra length in the backs of the legs. Keep a soft bend in the knees to prevent locking the knees. The feet can be together or hip distance apart, whichever is most comfortable for you. Hold for 5-10 breaths.

47B0FCDB-9453-4C02-AB4F-882C68F70333.jpeg
2E59B777-9FB1-46BA-9801-61B0D2836CC7.jpeg

ADDING PROPS

If you are unable to reach the floor, that’s ok! You can modify this pose with a strap under the feet to help you create length in the spine and hamstrings. Or you can use a block or chair to bring the floor to you.

6506D94C-8697-47FE-AA12-4A5C0F04C61C.jpeg

CHAIR VARIATION

If you struggle with fatigue or have difficulty balancing, you can modify this pose with a chair. This will also lessen the intensity of the hamstring stretch.

Come into a seated position away from the back of the chair. The feet are flat on the floor, ankles directly below the knees. Hinge at the waist, reaching for the floor with your fingertips. Let the chest rest against your thighs and relax the head and spine. Hold for 5-10 breaths. To come up, press the palms of the hands into your thighs and slowly rise.

HOW DID IT GO?

If you tried any of these variations, I'd love to know how it went for you! Tag me on Instagram and use the hashtag #spoonieyogatribe in your photos for a chance to be featured on my page! Or post a photo in our private Facebook group to show off your progress!

BALASANA: CHILD'S POSE

Not everybody likes child’s pose. For many people, child's pose is a favorite. It's restorative, restful and cozy, and it can relieve pain and anxiety within the space of a few breaths. But it isn't that way for everybody.

As a yoga teacher, I have seen many students struggle to get comfortable in child's pose. Most people see child's pose as an easy pose that anybody can do even if it's their first time on the mat, but the reality is that some bodies just don't like the traditional shape of child's pose. Some bodies just don't want to bend that way, and that is perfectly okay! 

We shouldn't have to modify our bodies in order to fit the shape of our yoga practice, but rather our yoga practice should be modified to fit the shape of our bodies. There is nothing wrong with you if you don't like child's pose! But because this pose comes with so many benefits, let's explore some ways to make this pose more accessible.

Named balasana in sanskrit, child's pose comes with many benefits, including:

  • calming and grounding the mind and body
  • soothing headaches
  • opening the hips
  • stretching the spine
  • relieving lower back pain
  • stretching the shoulders
  • massaging the internal organs
  • soothing menstrual cramps

You can still get all of these amazing benefits with the modified variations of child's pose below. 

75EE4FC7-A0EF-490A-B7CD-0EF4CA364B9D.jpeg

TRADITIONAL CHILD’S POSE

Come down onto your hands and knees. Bring the big toes to touch. Knees can be together or apart, depending on your comfort. Taking the knees wide does give more space for the belly to expand with breath.

Walk the hands forward, reaching the arms straight out in front of you and draping your upper body over your thighs. Let your forehead find the floor. Take a big breath in and exhale, completely relax your entire body. Stay here for ten deep breaths or up to three minutes. Supported variations can be held longer. 

E55BA1BA-4C27-4AEA-A1A6-42E8D71C077B.jpeg
4BEC09F2-F9E3-4B92-B766-2B17C9A427D5.jpeg

CHILD'S POSE WITH PROPS

Start by coming down onto your knees. If you'd like, you can also place a folded blanket or cushion under your knees and under your hips for extra padding. Take your knees wide. Big toes touch. Bring the bolster between your knees so you can drape your entire torso over the top. These props help to correct the most common problem I see in child’s pose: booty floating way up in the air. Once you’re settled in, turn your head to one side. You can rest here for up to ten minutes. Just make sure that you turn your head to the opposite side halfway through so your neck doesn't become stiff.

60B3E333-162E-4A70-8D11-761656CE0BCD.jpeg

CHILD'S POSE WITH EXTENDED LEGS

For this variation, you will need a bolster and a yoga block. Lie down on your belly on top of the bolster. Stretch your legs out behind you, and rest your forehead on the yoga block. The arms can be bent with elbows under shoulders or the arms can be extended. This option is great for people with knee pain or neck pain, and it still gives you all the benefits of traditional child's pose. You may rest here for as long as you'd like.

2D29CCBF-1512-4829-A325-4150A491C0B1.jpeg

CHILD'S POSE IN A CHAIR

If getting down to the floor is a no-go for you, you'll love this third modification! This option uses two chairs facing each other, a yoga bolster and a yoga block. Sometimes we just have to get a bit creative!

To come into the pose, be seated in a chair with the feet flat on the floor. If they don't reach, use blocks or books to bring the floor to you. Set your block on the chair in front of you and place one end of the bolster on top of the block and the other end between your knees. Make sure it's secure and then drape your upper body over the bolster. You can rest here for up to ten minutes. But again, make sure you turn your head the opposite direction halfway through so your neck doesn't become stiff. 

I hope this pose helps you feel relaxed and supported. You deserve it!

If you'd like to see how to set up and execute these poses, play the video below.

HOW DID IT GO?

If you tried any of these variations, I'd love to know how it went for you! Tag me on Instagram and use the hashtag #spoonieyogatribe in your photos for a chance to be featured on my page! Or post a photo in our private Facebook group to show off your progress!

PASCHIMOTTANASANA: SEATED FORWARD BEND

Contrary to popular belief, Paschimottanasana (seated forward bend) is not about touching your toes or being able to tap your knees with your nose. It's actually about creating length, as much length as you possibly can, in your spine and in your hamstrings.

Paschimottanasana comes with so many benefits, including:

  • massaging the internal organs and improving digestion
  • relieving lower back pain
  • soothing the nervous system
  • stretching the hamstrings and spine

There are so many different ways to modify this pose, so you're sure to find a variation that feels good for your body.

CE0B29CC-05FF-432C-B160-4B6D08BCD269.jpeg

TRADITIONAL PASCHIMOTTANASANA

With legs stretched out in front of you and feet flexed, first sit up nice and tall, reaching through the entire spine. Draw the lower belly in as you tilt the pelvis forward to create length in the back legs. Slowly walk your hands forward, keeping your back flat as you fold over your legs and reach for the feet with your hands. Do not compromise the straightness of your spine in order to come closer to your legs. Doing so may strain the lower back, which can be very sensitive. As long as you continue to practice, the flexibility will come.

Practice this pose for ten breaths or longer if part of a yin or restorative practice.

Alignment tips:

  • Engage the lower belly and lengthen your tailbone to protect your lower back.
  • Keep the spine tall and the shoulders relaxed.
  • Be mindful of your neck - it is an extension of your spine

Avoid this pose if you have herniated spinal discs or other back injury, or diarrhea.

A8A6523B-8AA0-43CC-A7D1-F37D24866921.jpeg
06CFD499-B143-485C-9A84-D54C60132C13.jpeg
1682E0FE-9C36-4B96-894C-AC101DDBF013.jpeg

SEATED VARIATIONS

1. Adding a folded blanket or a yoga block under your hips will help to facilitate the pelvic tilt that is required to fold forward in this pose. This creates extra length in the hamstrings, and you might find that even a prop at a low height makes a big difference. 

2. If you have tight hamstrings, try adding a rolled up towel, blanket or a yoga bolster under your knees. This allows you to relax into the pose while keeping the knees bent.

3. Lassoing a yoga strap around your feet can help you to work on deepening your flexibility while still honoring your body. Remember to keep your spine tall and the shoulders relaxed. If you start to feel like you're clenching your jaw or restricting your breath, you've gone too far into the pose and should back up to the point where you feel sensation but are still comfortable enough to breathe.

19171D52-66BD-4633-BA30-9830ACBDEBE1.jpeg
53CBC3FA-5E25-4A2B-BC8F-B4F569326E15.jpeg

RESTORATIVE VARIATIONS

When practicing this pose as a part of a bedtime or restorative practice, it's important that we are able to rest the head to fully immerse ourselves in the pose and soothe the nervous system. Using props is the best way to achieve this goal. Remember that you can always combine modification ideas to achieve the ideal support for your body.

A9ADBF46-5C34-45DF-A9C2-2B4503E059D7.jpeg

CHAIR YOGA VARIATION

To practice this variation, sit at the edge of a chair with the legs extended in front of you. The feet should be flexed, toes pointed toward the ceiling. You can rest your hands on your thighs or on two blocks. Sit up tall, lengthen the crown of your head away from your tail bone. Tilt your pelvis forward and pull the low belly in to protect your lower back and create additional length in your hamstrings. Keep your neck neutral. Shoulders away from your ears. Hold for ten deep breaths.

52420981-6E82-4703-87CB-F87056400884.jpeg

SUPINE VARIATION

For this variation, you will need a yoga strap. To come into this pose, lie flat on your back with your strap at the ready. Bend your knees into your chest and lasso both feet with your strap. Begin to extend your legs and reach the heels toward the sky. Make sure that your strap is long enough so that when you extend your legs, you can still keep your shoulder blades and elbows glued to the mat. This will prevent you from straining your neck. If there is a bend in your knees here, that's okay! 

Take ten deep breaths here and then release the hold. 

HOW DID IT GO?

If you tried any of these variations, I'd love to know how it went for you! Tag me on Instagram and use the hashtag #spoonieyogatribe in your photos for a chance to be featured on my page! Or post a photo in our private Facebook group to show off your progress!

ADHO MUKHA SVANASANA: DOWNWARD FACING DOG

I once heard a yoga instructor of mine call downward facing dog a "resting pose." Ha! I beg to differ. This pose is an energizing pose and is very physically demanding for the upper body. It strengthens the arms, shoulders and core muscles while lengthening the spine and stretching the hamstrings. It tones the digestive organs, and when done with the head supported, this pose can also relieve headaches and menstrual discomfort.

Check out the variations below to find the one that works best for your body, and don't forget that you can always ask questions here

739D664D-F496-4D40-8A19-5EBF63A5630E.jpeg

TRADITIONAL DOWNWARD FACING DOG

Start on hands and knees, but unlike tabletop pose, you'll walk the hands slightly in front of the shoulders. Spread the fingers wide and press firmly into all ten fingertips. Curl your toes under, and begin to lift your hips up toward the sky. Reach the heels toward the floor and straighten the legs as far as you are able (If your heels don't touch the floor, you might like the next modification option). Lengthen your tailbone away from the crown of your head. Engage the lower belly to protect your lower back and to prevent all of your weight from falling on your hands. Shoulders are plugged in their sockets, relaxed away from the ears. Take ten deep breaths here, then take rest in child's pose.

Modify or avoid this pose if you have a rotator cuff injury, high blood pressure, diarrhea, or carpal tunnel.

56FB27E8-0BF2-47F2-94C6-6E2BD11178AE.jpeg

VARIATION: BLANKET UNDER THE HEELS

Adding a blanket underneath your heels will allow you to ground your feet firmly into the earth while still maintaining a bend in your knees. This is helpful if you have tight hamstrings. 

C6F4DEC2-326B-49B4-A0C9-9E86F89DFA49.jpeg

POSE ALTERNATIVE: DOLPHIN POSE

If you have sensitive wrists, dolphin pose might be a good alternative to downward facing dog. However, dolphin pose does put a lot more pressure on the shoulders and requires quite a bit of shoulder flexibility. To come into this pose, start on your hands and knees. Drop down to your forearms with the elbows in line with the wrists. Curl your toes under and begin to lift your hips and straighten your legs. Hold for ten deep breaths and then take rest in child's pose.

E70CA282-E595-4862-A1A0-9EC0CB838E45.jpeg
29FA0D89-9CE7-48A1-9C61-F88985E07ABF.jpeg
CBA4C2DF-69D8-4ABD-893A-FB4DC1945970.jpeg

CHAIR YOGA VARIATIONS

These variations are incredibly helpful if you have sensitive wrists, upper body weakness, headaches, dizziness, or balance issues. 

The first two standing variations are pretty similar, but the first one will give you more of an upper body stretch. The second variation, gives you a lower body stretch while allowing you to rest your head. This variation is especially beneficial for headaches.

The third chair variation allows you to support your entire body weight on the chair. You don't have to worry about balance at all, but you still get the benefits of the upper body stretch, lower back pain relief and benefits for the digestive system.

HOW DID IT GO?

If you tried any of these variations, I'd love to know how it went for you! Tag me on Instagram and use the hashtag #spoonieyogatribe in your photos for a chance to be featured on my page! Or post a photo in our private Facebook group to show off your progress!