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Challenging Child's Pose

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Joined: 23 Sep 2006
Posts: 1117
Location: Vancouver

PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2016 12:08 am    Post subject: Challenging Child's Pose Reply with quote

I was recently asked the following question:
    Hi Bernie! Yesterday I had a student who was in her 50's and when we went into childs pose, she could barely sit her hips to her heels--it looked as if she was basically in table top position. I tried placing a blanket behind her knees but it did not really help since she couldn't really sit backward to have that bend in her knees. I also tried to give some more height by stacking blocks on a bolster but that just looked messy and "desperate". She was pretty adamant about doing the pose just as everyone else was, so I did not suggest a squat for her. Do you mind letting me know what you would have done with the props? Thank you so much, I appreciate any feedback that you may have! The studio I'm at has bolsters, blocks, blankets, and straps (but I don't use straps when I teach yin). With gratitude, Sarah

Hi Sarah

Many students are unable to either do Childs Pose or get comfortable in it. It may be due to knee problems, but it can also be due to a lack of mobility in the hips. For some students, the knees need to be much wider apart. For others, they need a bolster under the chest and between the knees. For your student, you may need to investigate with her and have her answer a question: What stops me? Ask her what she is feeling and where. Issues in the knees generally show up in the knees, but if she is blocked by the hips, that will generate different sensations. If it is about the knees, what is she feeling there? Is it tension in the quads? Is it compression at the back of the knee joint? Is it pain in the knee?

Another alternative pose for her is to do Childs Pose on her back! It is called apanasana: have her lie on her back and hug the knees to her chest. She probably cannot get them very close, but again have her investigate why: What stops me? Now where is she feeling the resistance? She can abduct the knees wider apart, she can do a modified Happy Baby, maybe using straps.

With a bit of creativity and receptiveness, I am sure you will find a way for her to get the intentions you want for her from Childs Pose.

Good luck
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Joined: 02 Nov 2016
Posts: 20
Location: Upstate New York

PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2016 4:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for this information! I teach a "Yoga Basics" class that tends to attract middle-aged/older students and others with limited flexibility issues. I always try to encourage students to find ways to adapt child's pose to fit their bodies and not the other way around, including widening the knees, elevating the hips, resting the forehead on the arms, using props, etc. One of the things I hadn't considered was doing the pose on one's back--duh! I will start offering this alternative as well.
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