Yoga pose :: reclined butterfly pose

So, if you know me, you know I love yoga asana, which are the poses and physical expression of yoga. I appreciate and practice other parts of the big Yoga, but asana is my most active practice. To help spread and de-mystify yoga a bit, I’m going to try (emphasis on try) to share a yoga pose a week. I plan to explain how to get in and out of the pose, what to do while in the pose, and explain the benefits of the pose a bit. Most of this will come directly from me and what I’ve learned over nearly 15 years of practice and almost 3 years of teaching (which, by the way and as a form of disclaimer, isn’t very long at all). I’ll also provide a link or two with other teachers’ versions of the pose.

Reclined butterfly pose. This is another restorative pose, like last week’s pose. Although, I should note that restorative poses don’t have to be. Any pose that’s labeled a restorative pose can also be held for less time. Anyway…when practiced in a restorative fashion, this can be a great pose for releasing and relaxing tension in the inner thighs, groin, and low back. Here’s the skinny:

Props: Two towels or blankets of equal size or two yoga blocks.

Two rolled up blankets are used here, but towels will also do.

How-to: Evenly and as tightly as you can, roll up the blankets or towels, placing one on either side of you. Place your feet on the floor in front of you—knees bent—and your hands—palm down—behind you. Tuck your chin and slowly lower yourself onto your back. Slowly roll your feet onto their outside edges, bringing the soles of the feet loosely together. The knees fall away from each other as you do this, forming a diamond shape. Reach for the rolled towels/blankets, placing them under your thighs and knees.

Wiggle around a bit to make your back comfortable across the floors. Find the right position for your arms—at your sides, overhead, or with the hands resting on the belly.

Once there: Breathe. Let your back ease into the floor. Allow the natural arch of the back to be. Take a couple of deep breathes into your belly allowing the belly to fully expand. As you exhale invite the inner thighs to soften and the legs to relax a bit more into the support underneath them. Stay for 10-15 minutes.

How to get out: Place your hands on your outer thighs. With an exhale, press your legs together with your hands, bringing the soles of the feet to the floor again. Take a couple of breathes. Bring your knees into  your chest and rock gently side to side. Roll to one side and pause for a few breathes in a fetal position. Slowly press yourself upright.

Benefits: Stretches the inner thighs, increases external rotation in the hips, and calms the nervous system.

When not to do this pose: In my experience, this pose works for everyone with the right modifications. If you’re pregnant, you do not want to fully recline, but rather create an angled wedge on which to recline.

If you have very sensitive and/or injured knees it’s best not to do the pose, or, to create enough support under the knees to keep them safe and pain-free.

Other resources:


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