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How To Do Child's Pose To Release Tension & Return To Your Body

Merrell Readman
mbg Associate Food & Health Editor By Merrell Readman
mbg Associate Food & Health Editor
Merrell Readman is the Associate Food & Health Editor at mindbodygreen. Readman is a Fordham University graduate with a degree in journalism and a minor in film and television. She has covered beauty, health, and well-being throughout her editorial career.
Childs Pose
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With the constant pressure of daily life, you may be looking for a grounding practice to soothe and stretch your body, reducing stress and strain that may accumulate throughout the day. For this, there's no better yoga move than child's pose, which helps stretch the shoulders, back, and hips.

Accessible to all fitness levels and supremely grounding, child's pose can be used in moments when you need a break within your flow (or day) to find your way back into your body, offering a space to focus on your breath while easing tense muscles.

Whether you're just beginning your yoga journey or are more advanced within your practice, it's a great pose to turn to again and again. Below, certified yoga teacher Phyllicia Bonanno demonstrates this essential movement, alongside some tips and variations to keep your practice fresh. 

How to do child's pose.

child's pose

Image by mbg Creative / mbg Creative

Demonstrated by Phyllicia Bonanno.

How-to:

  1. From tabletop, sit back onto your heels with the toes together and the knees out wide.
  2. Reach and extend your fingertips forward, allowing your chest to rest on your mat.
  3. Lengthen from the hips up to the fingertips.
  4. Breathe here for anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes.
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Form tips.

If you need a full-body stretch, child's pose is one of the most accessible options for the job. "Child's pose is good if you need time to recover or if you wish to neutralize between exercises," Yin yoga instructor Stefanie Arend previously explained to mbg. "The position relaxes the back, shoulders, and neck. It stretches the bridges of the foot and the ankles, relaxes the spine, and evenly massages the stomach organs."

As you separate your knees, Bonanno notes to bring your heart down to the mat and reach your arms out forward to get the deepest stretch possible.

Modifications & variations:

1. Child's Pose Spinal Waves

child's pose spinal waves

Image by mbg creative

Demonstrated by Emily Chen.

How-to:

  1. Start in a child's pose position, with your knees wide, your hips sitting back, arms stretching forward, and your torso resting over your thighs.
  2. Round your chin in toward your chest. Curl your tailbone under, and roll forward into cat pose.
  3. Allow your shoulders to go slightly past your wrists, drop the belly down, and draw the shoulder blades back into cow pose.
  4. Then draw your body all the way back into child's pose.
  5. Continue flowing in a fluid movement, through each phase, for three times total. 

2. Puppy Pose

puppy pose

Image by mbg Creative / mbg Creative

Demonstrated by Bonanno.

How-to:

  1. From child's pose or tabletop, bring your knees together.
  2. Walk your fingertips forward and bring your chest onto the mat.
  3. Allow your hips to lift high up toward the ceiling, opening up the chest and bending the back.
  4. Hold for a few breaths before moving on to another pose.

3. Wide-Knee Child's Pose

This Yoga Pose Helps Unload Tension To Reset Your Body & Mind

Image by Juanina Kocher

Demonstrated by Juanina Kocher.

How-to:

  1. Kneel on a yoga mat while making sure your heels are touching your bottom.
  2. Lay your chest down, and let your forehead touch the mat.
  3. Extend your arms straight ahead of you with your palms resting flat on the ground or with your arms to your sides: yogi's choice!
  4. Breathe.

Add it to your routine.

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Child's pose is prevalent in most yoga flows, so it won't be difficult to integrate this essential movement into your practice. However, if you need a little inspiration or are looking for a routine that will effectively stretch your tight, uncomfortable back, this 12-minute, heart-opening flow from Bonanno will hit the spot.

However, if you're craving a little extra movement, this efficient nine-minute routine from international yoga instructor Emily Chen will hit those sticky tension spots in the back and neck while providing the opportunity to center yourself again.

Child's pose is not the most advanced yoga move, but it's essential to master the basics before moving forward with your training—and this pose is one of the cornerstones.

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