Pose Breakdown: Happy Baby

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Nancy Nelson

Good afternoon yogis!

I hope your Monday is off to a fabulous start. Today, we break down Happy Baby pose. It’s a great one for deep release in the hips. You’ll often see this pose in both yin and yang classes and it has various benefits in both settings. Today, we talk about it in yin context. Let’s get to it!

Happy Baby Pose


Come onto your back and hug your knees into your chest. This is your first stopping point. You can always come back to this position if adding on is too much for today. Begin to lift the heels away from the hips and grab onto the outer edges of either foot with the palm of each hand. Inhale to create some space here and as you exhale draw your low back and knees in toward the earth.

Happy Baby Pose


  • DON’T RUSH – The point of the posture is to find resistance and breathe through it. Rushing beyond your sensations is not only physically unsafe but it’s robbing you from the true experience of release.
  • DETAILS – Draw the low back continually toward the floor so you don’t overstretch the lumbar spine. Feet can stay flexed slightly here.


  1. Half Happy Baby | To focus on one leg rather than both at the same time, you can take a half variation of this posture. Same principles apply. Keep the extended leg fully grounded or bend the knee and place the foot to the earth. You can also use props in any variation to help support and deepen.
  2. At the wall | To alleviate some of the “effort” needed to hold this pose, it can also be practiced at the wall. It resembles a malasana squat in a sense here. Place the soles of the feet onto the wall and let the knees drop out and down. You can place your arms on the legs for more pressure.
Half Happy Baby
Half Happy Baby
Happy Baby at the Wall


  • Externally rotates the hips, especially helpful after a long day of sitting or standing still.
  • Releases the hamstrings.
  • Helps safely stretch and lengthen the low back.
  • Because this loosens up tissue in the center of your body at the hips it helps to increase overall blood circulation from the top of the body to the bottom, creating a balancing effect body and mind.


  • Stimulates the urinary and kidney lines through the inner groin region
  • Emotional release: The hips are known to house emotional stress. Whether it’s happiness, sadness, stress, fear, worry, etc. a lot of that stress finds it’s way to the hips by tightening up the fascia in that region. When you hold this pose for an extended amount of time, it is common to encounter some of these emotions coming to the surface ready to release. If this occurs, simply breathe and let go. Try not to resist these things as they are meant to be sent out.

USE CAUTION: Contraindications for this posture include…

  • Vertebral issues in the lumbar spine/SI joint. Be sure to support yourself using props so you are careful not to strain these already sensitive joints. If you feel any pain, take the pose to a wall to alleviate pressure.
  • Numbness. If you start to feel tingly, please be sure to back out of the pose until this numbing sensation ceases. You do not want to put pressure on your nerves in this way as it will damage functionality over time.
  • Knee/Ankle sensitivity or injury. If you have any current or previous injury or pain in these joints, take a modified version of this pose until you find that the joints are ready for more intensity. This could take a long time or a matter of weeks. Be patient and trust the process.

HOLD: 3-5 minutes, depending on your own personal needs. Come up very slowly from this posture (as with any yin pose).


Relaxing on your back or a nice spinal twist are two great options for release here.

Come out of the twist but continue to face the left side. Stack the knees and square the chest off to one or two blankets placed out in front of you. Let an exhale guide you forward. Gaze can be to the right/left.
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Nancy Nelson
Nancy Nelson
Nancy is the fearless leader here at Nancy Nelson Yoga! She has been instructing yoga since 2012 and is certified as a Registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT 500, YACEP) with Yoga Alliance. She loves guiding yoga classes in all forms – from sweaty vinyasa flows, to slow mindful movement - but her favorite style to practice and teach is yin yoga. She attended a formal 50-hour Yin Yoga training with Bernie Clark and Diana Batts in the fall of 2018 and it truly propelled her into developing her yin focused website, webinars and trainings.

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