Translated from Sanskrit, Ananda Balasana means Bliss Child Pose, better known as Happy Baby Pose. Up until this week, this pose has been present in my life as an enjoyable and relaxing cool-down pose, the tail end of many high energy flow classes and a sign that savasana is just seconds away. It has been a pose I’ve always had fun doing, never striking me as a challenging pose or one with more depth then as an inner thigh and low back stretch. We all do it, enjoy it, sink into savasana, and then continue our day without a second thought to Happy Baby Pose.
There is more to Ananda Balasana then meets the eye, and who better to learn this from than a baby. My daughter at 19 weeks has opened my eyes to the true essence and potential of this pose. As a natural process of exploring her world this week she discovered her toes. She has realized that she can reach them, grab them, and with just curiosity and enjoyment as her teachers, she has embodied Happy Baby better then any yogi I have seen. The joy that radiates from her face as she rolls from side to side holding those toes has opened my eyes to what this pose is really about, the Bliss Child Pose.
Ananda Balasana is not just the cool down stretch that we find in our modern day classes. Instead of an ending, this pose is truly a beginning. It is the first pose every human learns, no matter who you are, where you are from, or how you are raised. Every baby moves into this pose naturally with curiosity and joy. They are not focused on the inner groin or low back stretch, they aren’t remembering the days when they couldn’t grab their toes or thinking about what poses that day they still cannot perform. They are present in that moment with no thought of fear or difficulty, no self judgement or expectation. There is just bliss in that moment, radiating out of their toes, their eyes, and in their smiles. How wonderfully easy and enjoyable would all our asana practice be if we applied this first yoga lesson to the rest of our yogic journey. If every pose began with a mind and body full of enjoyment and play, we would all lift up into our handstands, float into our chaturangas, and really begin to tap into the essence and value of asana practice. Just remember that initial joy of discovering your toes and the rest will come.