In yoga class we are presented with an array of yoga postures, or asanas, each pose fitting each body differently. For example, one person may find comfort in downward facing dog while another person finds the pose greatly challenging. Throughout the class, each person will have his or her unique experience in each pose.
In a challenging pose, the mind—as modern minds tend to do—often says, “Just push through it. You can do it,” before first checking in with the body, and specifically, the breath. This mentality might sound familiar to you. It might even sound encouraging. But if we only listen to what the mind tells us what to do without first checking in with our bodies, trouble may ensue.
If, instead, the mind first checks in with the breath, it might find a labored breath, or even a held breath. If a relatively steady breath cannot be found, this would indicate a need for softening. And one of the best ways to soften is in child’s pose, or balasana. In child’s pose we come to the hands and knees, and then push the hips back toward the heels while draping the body over the thighs and bringing the forehead to the floor. (Feel free to place a blanket over the calves and/or a block under the forehead for more comfort, if needed.)
At any time throughout a yoga practice, if steadiness and ease are nowhere to be found, take child’s pose and find your breath. Even if the rest of the class is in a standing posture, if your body says, “rest,” child’s pose is always available. Taking child’s pose when your body (and mind, and spirit) truly needs it, is a sign that you really understand the practice. After all, it is your practice; so it should fit you, not the rest of the class.
Get comfortable with taking child’s pose when your body needs a rest, despite what the rest of the class is doing, and especially despite what the ego mind is telling you to do. Taking child’s pose when needed is a powerful practice. Next time you are in class listen to your breath, and when it tells you it’s time, take child’s pose.