Saturday, May 28, 2005

A Child Shall Lead Them

My mom came home from the hospital yesterday after gall bladder surgery and a long stay. Happily, she's feeling better and was ready to come home.

But before she left, all the hospital staff who had worked with her over the weeks came in to say goodbye.

That's an understatement. They hugged her and wished her well. They kissed her and fussed over her. They let her know they'd miss her. Truly, they honored her.

I don't think anyone who visited my mom while she was there has a doubt she had an impact on the people who took care of her in the hospital. My mom was so grateful and appreciative of the aides, nurses, doctors, food servers, orderlies, students, and pharmacists. The more she expressed her gratitude and reached out to them in friendship, the more they served her selflessly. Truly amazing.

It's odd, I think, that the people who bathed and fed and cleaned up after my mom, instead of resenting her, fawned over her, like a puppy thumping his tail, wanting so much to please her.

It's prompted me to think about child's pose, balasana.

John Friend writes of balasana:
Balasana expresses what in India is called a pranam, the gesture of bowing. Literally, "pranam" means "to offer up all of one's parts." For thousands of years, yoga students have knelt before their guru or teacher, humbly bowed their heads, and touched their guru’s feet. This practice is foreign to us in the West, where such bowing or pranaming is thought of as demeaning. But in the original context of yoga, a pranam is an act of dignity and honor, expressing a recognition of the divinity that is present in the human heart. It is to that divinity that we bow. (Yoga Journal, Jan/Feb 1997)
That's it. They saw the Divine in my mom. And they were moved to action.

It's telling that yoga poses are named after or dedicated to sages, great warriors, heroes, beautiful and majestic animals and, of all things...a child.

Maybe it's because children marvel. They don't know they shouldn't be captivated by awe and wonder. They just let if flow.

You probably don't know my mom. But you can express your awe and wonder at the beauty and Divinity that are all around you.

Here's how:
Come onto your hands and knees.
Point your toes backward.
Bring your feet together so the inner edges of your big toes touch.
Adjust your knees so they are about hip width apart.
Then sit your hips down on your heels.
Lengthening your spine, lay your front ribs down on your thighs.
Extend your arms out in front of you, palms facing down, and rest.
Go ahead, bend your arms. Let your elbows rest on the floor.

balasana, child's pose Posted by Hello

As we get older, most of us get stiff. So your hips, feet, ankles, or neck might bother you in this position. And you may find it difficult to breathe. But the tiniest bit of regular practice in this position reveals that it is unbelievably refreshing and comforting to your nervous system.

While you're in child's pose, imagine that you are reaching out to touch the feet of someone for whom you have high regard, someone who served you selflessly, someone in whom you recognize the spark of Divinity.

Like those who helped my mom, you magnify your own beauty and dignity, when you recognize it and point to it in others.

By the way, this pose is great for your hips, gently stretches the spine, and rests your heart. It's delightful.

Don't just read about it. Get up. Experience it. Experience yoga!

Kevin Perry

p.s., You can find out more about John Friend and Anusara Yoga at

p.p.s., I enjoyed reading a beautiful personal account of the practice of balasana at

p.p.p.s., By the way, balasana is also known as garbhasana. It's not the same pose as pindasana (embryo pose) and garbha pindasana (embryo in the womb posture). These are the types of puzzles we help you sort out at the Experience Sanskrit workshop. Our next workshop is coming up on June 25th at the YogaSource in St. Louis. Click on for more info and to register. For $50 you get the four-hour workshop, which is jam-packed with fun and unforgettable experiences, and a 100-page course manual to take home.

garbha pindasana from Posted by Hello

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved, Mo Yoga LLC.


Blogger Atouria said...

What a beautiful post about balasana. I also find that concentrating on allowing my breath to fill and expand my lower back helps me to focus during this asana.

Thank you so much for visiting yarn yoga. You may have been suprised to find so much about knitting and so little about yoga, but I'm working on that. :)


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Blogger said...

thank u for your stopping by my blog. i signed up for your email tips and look forward to learning from you

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