Happy baby was a hard pose for me.
I used to cringe when my yoga instructor led us into the pose, and moved into the shape with a grimace and solely out of obligation. This was back in my early days of yoga, when I was taking afternoon classes in the recreational center of my college campus. Most of us were hungover or procrastinating at studying for an upcoming exam, and the last thing I wanted to do was lay on my back and awkwardly spread my legs. The position reminded me an unsuccessful hookup, one that I particularly did not wish to relive.
Nowadays, however, I love ananda balasana. Not only is does it open and stretch the hips, but happy baby, when done with a peaceful mind, feels carefree, light, and playful. The word ananda translates to several different meanings, all of which express a similar feeling. Ananda means joy, delight, and pleasure. Ananda means pure happiness and the end of drama. Ananda means feeling a little bit foolish.
To feel foolish can be a little scary. To some, following choices of the heart, or pursuing one’s dream, can seem impossible and therefore silly to chase. Instead of doing something, we sit on a rock, put our fist under our chin Winnie-the-Pooh-style, and ask, “Why bother?”
There are many fears that block any activity that requires foolish behavior. The fear of failure is a big one. So is the fear of rejection or criticism. Taking a crazy chance, whether within a relationship, hobby, or career, is often met with negativity, from both internal and external forces. Maybe your parents, or society doesn’t agree with your choice. Maybe your biggest critic is you.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet your inner child.
Do you remember what you were like as a little one? I’m talking before puberty, back in the Lisa Frank lunchbox days. When I was a little girl, my parents owned a Dell desktop computer that sat in the unfinished basement of our home. After school, I’d run home (metaphorically, I took the bus), microwave a Wildberry poptart, and get to work. I’d write stories just for fun. Microsoft Word was a black and white playground. There was no sense of failure or fear of rejection. I wrote without the expectation of praise; my only urge was to play.
I see similar behavior replicated in the kids I babysit. They dress up like knights and astronaut-pirates with complete disregard for the public’s opinion. They play in the garden and make a strawberry factory. No choice is too outlandish. There is no failure; only fun.
Of course, there are times in life where we most put on our big kid pants. We have to pay our bills, our rent, blah blah blah. But I’ve found that some of the best and most rewarding decisions I’ve made have come from exploring a new path, letting go of expectations, trusting the flow, and letting go of worry. Yes, it’s led to some mistakes, but how else would I have learned?
There are many facets to who we are as humans. Regardless of our age, we are constantly an elder, student, lover, caregiver, teacher, or child. All of these aspects of our personality need nourishment, and sometimes the ananda balasana gets neglected.
Be sure to give your happy baby the love that he or she deserves. How do you nourish your inner child?
If you liked this article, why not check out: "Peace Through Communication: A Simple Sutra for Tackling Anxiety" and "Documentation vs. Experience."
For a full list of Amanda's work, go here.