Modifying Child’s Pose

Perhaps one of the best-known yoga poses aside from Savasana is Child’s pose.  It is a restful, comforting pose utilized in pretty much every type of yoga.

There are two common versions of Child’s pose – ”regular” Child’s pose and Extended Child’s pose.  Personally, I find them each wonderful for different reasons.  Both are, as mentioned previously, very restful and relaxing, but I find that Child’s pose, with the rounded back and shoulders drooping toward the floor is a wonderful stretch for the upper back and shoulders.  That is something I really appreciate some days.  Extended Child’s pose on the other hand is a great way to stretch the low back, spine, and shoulders, which also feels great some days.

These two versions of Child’s pose, in and of themselves, can be a modification for each other.  Some people find the wider knees of Extended Child’s pose more comfortable than knees together.  Similarly, those with shoulder problems often prefer the relaxed arms at the side of the body (Child’s pose) over the extended arms (Extended Child’s pose).  As with all things in yoga, we should always listen to our body and honor what feels good to it.

I always tell students that when a teacher calls for one of the Child’s poses in a class, they should feel comfortable to do the version that is most comfortable for them, even if that is not the version the teacher just told them to do.  Likewise, they should also feel free to make modifications to either version of the pose so that, again, the position is comfortable and productive for them.  

Wondering how you can modify Child’s pose?  Well, here a few ideas for ways to modify each version of Child’s pose:

Modification #1 (for either version of the pose) – Use a block under your forehead if your forehead doesn’t comfortably reach the floor.  One of the most restful parts of child’s pose is being able to allow the head to rest against the ground (so that the muscles in the neck and shoulders don’t have to work to hold it up).

Modification #2 (for either version of the pose) – Place a blanket or pillow between your heels and your bottom so your body can relax fully into the pose without causing undo strain or pain in various parts of the body.  Again we want to be comfortable in the pose, so if blanket or bolster can provide a little cushion and/or height making the pose better for you, then go for it.

Modification #3 (for either version of the pose) – Place a blanket or pillow under your knees to provide some extra cushion if you have any kind of knee problems.  This modification partners well with Modification #2 – placing a blanket under your bottom can lift you up so the bend in the knees is not so severe, in addition to adding the extra cushion under the knees.

Modification #4 (for either version of the pose) – Place a bolster (or two) down in front of you and recline forward on to it.  This modification lifts you higher off the ground (which can be a plus for those knees) and is often very restorative in nature.

Modification #5 (for Extended Child’s pose) – Instead of having arms extended fully out, if that is uncomfortable, you can have arms bent at your elbows (making like a pillow for your head or in something more like cactus arms).  This alternative solution allows you to still enjoy a nice stretch through the back without causing undo strain on those shoulders.

In general, I always recommend students try both versions of Child’s pose, with and without some of these modifications, to see what feels best to them and then use that as their go to, especially when you find yourself in Child’s pose for longer periods of time.

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