What is child's Pose? (with modifications)

baptiste yoga beginners yoga breath child's pose help listening modification variation Aug 23, 2022


The meme became very popular around the internet a couple years ago. Honestly, it gives me a pretty good laugh, because it’s true. You can take child’s pose anytime you need it. I caution you from putting your head on the ground at the grocery store, but the sentiment is genuine.

When feeling overwhelmed, placing your body to the earth is grounding. Child’s pose creates an opportunity to turn one’s back to the world and draw the senses inward. In child’s pose, you can hear the sound of your breath, and feel the support of the ground beneath your body. Placing your forehead to the ground also helps to stimulate blood flow to your brain. Child’s pose has many, many benefits and yes, you can do it anytime you want.

When I was a new yoga teacher, I remember being shocked when I found out not everyone loves child’s pose. It’s generally spoken of so affectionately that I overlooked the fact that it actually requires quite a bit of flexibility to find the comfort in this pose. As a person with flexible hips, it takes nothing for me to nestle my torso between my legs and lay my forehead to the floor. However, for many people, this can be excruciating and challenging. Also, it can put a lot of pressure on the knees if you have problems in the joints.

I can definitely attest to the challenge of child’s pose whenever I attend a rare 6 am yoga class. Opening my hips that deeply when I’ve only been out of bed for less than 30 minutes is a very intense stretch. Child’s pose can actually be quite a strenuous pose, especially to folks who are new to yoga. Most people who love child’s pose can completely overlook the fact that this is not a dream pose for everyone.

Child’s Pose Modifications

Although a simple pose, child’s pose is not easy. This is why it’s important to have some child’s pose modifications in your back pocket. If you are a yoga teacher or yoga student, here are a few ways that you can guide people through child’s pose if it feels too strenuous.

Child’s Pose Modification #1:

Use yoga blocks underneath the forehead. Yoga blocks are amazing and I always suggest students have at least two blocks handy when practicing yoga. The yoga block underneath the forehead will reduce the stretch in the hips and low back. It is not necessary to have your torso all the way to the floor. Most importantly, you want the grounding of the forehead. Rather than reaching your forehead to the floor, the blocks essentially bring the floor to you. Yoga blocks are not cheats! They are brilliant and allow the body to release in its own time. You can use the block on the first, second, or third setting depending on the support that you need.

Child’s Pose Modification #2:

Use a yoga bolster underneath the torso and head. Yoga bolsters are a wonderful prop to have for your home practice. You can slide that bolster underneath your body and allow your body to rest comfortably on top of the pillow. You can even use two bolsters if you have them! The more height you give yourself, the less strain on the back and hips. Again, the bolsters provide an opportunity to bring the ground closer to you.

Child’s Pose Modification #3

Bring your knees closer together. Oftentimes we are encouraged in child’s pose to spread the knees to the edges of the mat. In a perfect world, this creates the space you need to lower your torso to the floor. If you don’t have blocks or a bolster handy, you can simply draw the knees together and allow the body to drape over the thighs. This still provides length in the spine and an opportunity to rest the forehead. You can play with the distance between your legs and you only need to go as far as is comfortable.

Child’s Pose Modification #4

Don’t take child’s pose. Yes, this is always your option. If you find child’s pose just doesn’t do it for you, skip it. The purpose of this pose is to calm the body and mind. If this pose does not provide those benefits, then it’s not your pose. If you take a yoga class and the teacher offers child’s pose, you can take supine butterfly by coming to your back instead. Supine butterfly can still be a pretty hefty hip opener, so consider putting a block under each knee to reduce the amount of opening. 

Yoga is an excellent opportunity to make a connection with your body and breath. If you find that a yoga pose creates more sensation than you can comfortably breath through, it’s not your pose. I think sometimes the most challenging thing is to find acceptance when a posture doesn’t work for our body the way it does for other bodies. Just because most people love child’s pose, doesn’t mean you have to. Or, you can find a way to enter the pose that doesn’t require you to be in pain. Find the wisdom posture that works for you.

I hope you like these suggestions. Let me know in the comments which modification you like best!


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