Ahhhh, happy baby. This restorative pose feels great at the end of a tough class for many of us. It is, however, a hip opener and can lengthen the spine as well. Sometimes when my back is feeling tight I take happy baby and roll side to side, giving myself a little massage. Pressing the tailbone to the floor allows the spine to straighten out and the hips to open a little further.
To take ananda balasana or happy baby, lie on the back and bring the knees in toward the chest. Make your shins perpendicular to the floor. Take your feet either with two straps (lasso each foot with a strap and hold both ends in each hand) or your hands. There are different hand positions you can use. You can simply grasp the outer edge of each foot, the toes of each foot, or you can draw your arms between your legs and then bring the hands to the outer foot from behind. Take whichever options feels the best for you. This is a restorative pose, you want it to feel good! The knees will come toward the side body as opposed to the chest in this pose. Drop your tailbone toward the floor, allow the head and neck to relax, breath and hold the pose for at least 30 seconds. You can press the feet with the hands to get a little deeper here. This is not a pose for pregnant women; spending too much time on the back while in the second and third trimester of pregnancy isn’t a good idea as it puts too much weight on a major vein that brings blood supply from the lower extremities back to the heart.