Child’s Pose & the Sweetness of Solitude
by Maria Borghoff
Our lives are extremely fast-paced and increasingly virtually-interconnected, and Child's Pose offers a space that is often difficult to access. Whether you want to feel supported amidst the transition of seasons, overwhelming emotions, or the chaos of daily life, this comforting posture actively cultivates the sensations of solace in your body and mind.
First, let’s take a look at the physical shape of Child’s Pose:
With knees bent on the floor and feet extending behind, the spine folds forward with the head released down and arms reaching out long. The front of the body is contracting and softening so that the back of the body can open and release. The gaze is gently turned inward towards the chest or down into the earth. Palms can open facing upward to release tension in the neck and shoulders.
Come into this position, and you’ll notice an almost immediate sensation of relief in your head. That’s because it is a gentle inversion, where your hips are slightly above your heart and your heart is slightly above your head. Inverted positions use gravity to reverse natural blood flow, asking the heart to pump blood in the opposite direction. Just as condensation builds up on the inside of half-filled water bottle when it’s been refrigerated and stagnant, turning the bottle upside down allows the liquid to wash over the whole surface to blend and homogenize the water molecules. This is why inversions feel so good, because they help our body find equilibrium by circulating blood and energy equally throughout.
Begin to breathe deeply in Child’s Pose and your belly will inflate, pressing into your thighs and expanding your lungs into the back of your ribs. This action stimulates the Parasympathetic Nervous System, which is the body’s natural relaxation response to stress.
All of these physical layers are incredibly beneficial and can be felt almost instantly after practicing Child’s Pose for just 1-2 minutes. But the energetic and subtle layers of the body offer an even deeper experience of peace.
My teacher once said that the front of the body represents the individual self, and the back of the body symbolizes the universal self. At first, when we come into this physical position of Child's Pose, it can often feel vulnerable. This is because we are closing off our sense organs on the front of the body and exposing the back of our spine, the most mobile and central system of the body. Ironically, this position of vulnerability is where many people also discover sensations of comfort and ease, and begin to surrender and soften into solitude.
Aside from it being supportive and incredibly nourishing, I love that this pose is inherently associated with a child! Babies and young children naturally come into this position - whether they are overstimulated, experiencing emotional discomfort, or physically exhausted. They will bring their head below their heart and down to the earth, and they will open the back of their body - all in order to feel comforted and relaxed.
Children have an innate wisdom that our society slowly un-teaches through sensory overstimulation, learned survival responses and social conditioning. As adults, sometimes we have to practice being like children and re-learning that solitude can be a source of deep connection with ourselves and the world around us.