Happy baby pose is a wonderful position to encourage the pelvic floor muscles to let go of unconscious holding patterns.
I like to modify this posture by placing the feet together, holding at the ankles, and separating the knees. Several of my patients find they are able to release the low back and avoid pinching in the front of the hips with this modification.
Once in this position, you can layer pranayama, or breath work, into the posture.
Using the breath
Dirgha is a relaxing breath to integrate. This three-part breath starts by inhaling and allowing the belly to fill. If you find this challenging, try placing a book on your belly.
The second part of dirgha is expanding the rib cage, with an extra focus to the side aspect of the rib cage. Finish the breath by allowing the collarbones to float up.
After trying this for 10 breath cycles, stop and recognize any new sensations or softening in the body.
I also like using the “letting go breath” in this posture. This is a quick reboot to the you can practice anywhere.
- Inhale through your nose.
- Exhale out on a sigh.
- Repeat as often as you like.
The letting go breath can be performed quietly but it can also be used to create a big sigh of tension out of the body. Notice if you inhale your arms overhead, that as you swoop your arms down and sigh, your rib cage softens.
Another useful strategy to layer into this posture is using breath cues to visualize elongation and releasing of the pelvic floor muscles.
My friend Aline Flores taught me this visualization: as you inhale, imagine your pelvic floor is expanding like a balloon. As you exhale, imagine the pelvic floor muscles soften and release without rebounding, as if the balloon was emptying out thru the bottom of the balloon.
Modified happy baby pose increases flexibility of the posterior thighs and adductors, decompresses the lumbar spine and releases pelvic floor muscles.
Important for retraining the brain to rewire the pain response, breath work calms the sympathetic nervous system. Dampening the fight or flight response also helps with overactive bladder syndrome and urinary urgency.