Most Yogis would agree that while Happy Baby Pose is not a traditional Yoga pose, it is a great way to stretch the hips and promote relaxation! Suitable for any level of practitioner there are many ways to adapt the pose, from doing one leg at a time to using a strap or modifying the way it looks to suit the body that’s doing it.
Many Yoga poses have multiple titles due to their translation from Sanskrit to English but also a lot of the time these poses were invented in the West and then translated into Sanskrit. Happy Baby pose or Ananda-Bala-asana is likely to be one of the latter.
To do Happy Baby pose you lie down on your back and bend your knees in towards your chest. Take hold of the outer edges of your feet with your arms on the insides of your legs so that you can use your elbows to press your knees wider than your ribcage. As you aim to stack your ankles over your knees, you bring your shinbones perpendicular to the floor. As you draw your knees down towards the floor you will start to feel a deep release to the inner hips and groin!
As with all Yoga poses this may be easy for some people and very difficult for others. Therefore it’s always worth experimenting with the different variations offered as this will build your confidence and help you to grow in your practice no matter what ability level you are currently at.
Happy Baby pose benefits the lower back, hamstrings, hips and pelvis. It is often practised in a Yin class as well as a Flow class as a way to open up the inner groin and hips, and is a fun pose to do at any age or stage in life – kids love it and it has great benefits for postnatal women too.
Along with its physical benefits, Happy Baby pose is one that always brings a smile to your face as not only is the name itself cute, but you do feel kind of ridiculous rolling around on your back while clutching your feet!
Whilst holding Happy Baby pose you can make a really subtle movement with the breath. Coming into the pose you would exhale – raising the legs, bending the knees in towards the chest and taking hold of the feet; inhale – lengthening the spine with the aim of keeping the tailbone on the ground; exhale – drawing the knees a little closer towards the outer edges of your ribcage.
Then just continue in this way for at least five deep breaths!
The key is not to be forceful with the pose, but to be playful.
Some common variations of Happy Baby pose are Half Happy Baby pose where you do one leg at a time, and Happy Baby pose using the wall where you lie on your back with your tailbone touching the wall and you take your knees a little wider than your chest and press your feet into the wall.
I personally love to do this pose at the end of dynamic leg sequence on the floor. It really allows me to explore the full range of motion in my hips and lower back!
Alternatively, you could try rocking forwards and backwards along the spine but you would lose some of the resistance between the feet and the hands. However if you were feeling really energetic you could take it as an opportunity to rock all the way forwards to jump back for a Vinyasa through to Downward Facing Dog.
Jumpbacks aside, if you practise Happy Baby pose before bed, falling asleep may become easier for you. This is because it is a partial inversion and inverted postures calm the brain!
Find joy, rejuvenation and relief from lower back pain with Happy Baby pose.