“No bending, twisting, or lifting anything more than 3-5 pounds.” Those were the instructions when I left the hospital from the surgery. There were no outside time limits on how long that would last. But finally, I got the approval from the physical therapist. I can do a child’s pose.
Child’s pose is considered a “resting” pose in yoga. Many people, though not everyone, love it. Yoga teachers often invite people to rest in child’s pose if they are tired or lose their breath during a class. It can be a calming way to find the breath, open the hips, and turn inward.
It is a simple pose. There are no difficult explanations. Child’s pose is a chance to settle. It is not for everyone, but for those who want it or need it, it is the perfect way to calm and breathe.
I am one of the people for whom child’s pose has historically been a difficult pose. I often get headaches when I am in it. But over the past few weeks, child’s pose has been what I feel like I want and need – only I did not think I could do it. Until I could.
It is amazing how wonderful a simple child’s pose can feel. For one thing, it felt great to be doing asana at all. It has been months since I have been able to do any postures. Being able to be in a posture means I can feel my breath in a new way. It is not the first time I have been in child’s pose, but it is the first time since a major trauma to my body. And it feels different. It feels like something new and exciting.
So much of yoga today in the west is about exercise, going into more “advanced” poses, and pushing ourselves, even when we think we are not. I have written about this numerous times before, but of course even I would find myself getting upset on days I could not balance or upset that I was still too scared to try a handstand (after a really bad injury from one a few years ago). But now I am excited and moved by child’s pose, perhaps the simplest, though not easiest, pose there is.
And child’s pose is an interesting pose to come back to. It leaves the back completely and utterly vulnerable. It also, however, teaches us to breathe into the back and soften through the spine, which in turn helps us soften through the belly. The belly is totally supported by the knees (unless doing a wide-legged child’s pose, but that is not what I have been doing), and the body can simply let go. It is the yoga paradox at work – the more support you have, the more you can let go.
Support is a key word for child’s pose. Even though the back body is vulnerable, which for many people is a very scary concept, the front body is so well supported that the pose can be one of letting go and serenity. But because the back is so vulnerable, it can also be a very unnerving pose. When it is fully supported, however, the feeling of being unnerved lessens, and we can get deeper into the therapeutic benefits of child’s pose.
I know very few professionals who never complain of back pain. Actually, I know only one. Child’s pose is one of the best way to relieve that pain. And yes, it can be done anywhere. I was doing child’s pose on the floor of my office the other day. Luckily I work in an office that often has children coming in and out, so it works out well. But seriously, I would rather look a little silly on my floor for a few minutes and be out of pain than writhe in pain until I get home. If nothing else, child’s pose helps us breathe, something that we discussed last time is sometimes easier said than done. It may not look like much, but there is a lot going on, and there is a lot to help us come back to our breath, and back to our health. Child's pose is an entirely new world for me these days.
Have you ever tried to rediscover child’s pose? Does it feel different in the morning than in the evening? Has it ever helped you get out of acute back pain?
© Rebecca Stahl 2013, all rights reserved.