Discover the butterfly pose and journey to more flexibility and inner peace. If you want to improve your body awareness, gently stretch your hips and thighs, and establish a sense of dedication, the butterfly is right for you.
The pose is one of the most accessible hip openers and a safe daily exercise. It targets the lower back muscles, hips, and thighs and helps relieve pain. Overall, the butterfly pose has a calming, relaxing effect on the body and mind and can help boost energy levels.
In this article, you’ll learn about the many benefits of the butterfly pose, how to perform it properly, and its variations.
Table of Contents:
- What is the Butterfly Pose?
- What Are the Benefits of Butterfly Pose?
- How to Do the Butterfly Pose
- Variations and Modifications
What is the Butterfly Pose?
The butterfly pose, also known as Baddha Konasana, is a hip opener in yoga.
This pose improves physical flexibility and promotes emotional balance and deep relaxation by gently stretching the hips and inner thighs.
It can also help release emotions stored in the hips. As a result, the posture also helps calm the mind and find inner peace.
The hip area, including the hip flexors, is one of the most commonly tense areas in most people due to a lot of sitting.
When sitting, the angle of the hip causes the hip flexor to be in a tight, shortened position.
On the other hand, the hips can also be a problem area for active and very athletic people, as they repeatedly pull the hip flexor into this short, tight position when running or cycling, for example.
The result is not only tense hips but also a tense back.
The butterfly pose is, therefore, an excellent stretch to prevent various posture complaints and gently stretch the hips.
Is the Butterfly Pose Suitable for Beginners?
The butterfly pose is a magnificent yoga exercise for beginners.
Which Yoga Classes Practice the Pose?
What Are the Benefits of Butterfly Pose?
When you enter the butterfly, you feel a gentle stretch in the groin and inner thighs. At the same time, the pose releases tension, especially in the hips and lower back.
You can also safely practice the pose during pregnancy, as it works as a stress reducer to relieve pregnancy pain in the lower back. Furthermore, it relieves chronic pelvic pain and period cramps.
In addition, the pose stimulates the abdominal organs and aids digestion and circulation. Here, you will find the health benefits of the butterfly in detail:
1. Strengthens the Body
A 12-week hatha yoga program that included the butterfly could increase the participants’ strength.
They could use yoga to increase their performance in pull-ups, push-ups, and tests that included the lower back and posterior thigh muscles.
Women, not men, could also improve resting heart rate (Lau et al. 20151).
2. Increases Flexibility
A study of 56 women aged 50 to 79 showed that yoga exercises can increase spinal mobility and hamstring muscle flexibility regardless of age.
The yoga program practiced in this study included the butterfly.
The researchers recommend yoga to older people to make muscles more flexible and thus increase their range of motion, which can directly improve their quality of life (Grabara et al. 20152).
3. Improves Balance
In a recent study, a 16-week yoga practice that included Baddha Konasana improved balance and flexibility in female college students during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The researchers, therefore, concluded that yoga could be used as a primary form of home exercise for female college students (Luo et al. 20233).
4. Facilitates Pregnancy
The butterfly is a yoga pose that can be safely practiced during pregnancy.
Researchers have used the exercise during prenatal hospitalizations for pregnancy complications.
In doing so, this prenatal yoga was studied in an outpatient setting as a method to reduce stress.
All of the women studied who commented on yoga practice stated that the exercises helped them reduce stress (Dangel et al. 20204).
A randomized controlled trial underscores that yoga is feasible and safe for improving lower back pregnancy pain.
According to the study, the unique 12-week practice, which included Baddha Konasana, could improve pregnant women’s overall well-being (Holden et al. 20195).
5. Reduces Menstrual Cramps
Recent studies show significant menstrual pain relief with improved pain tolerance and reduced stress levels in women who practiced butterfly pose variations.
Regulation of stress pathways through yoga was key in regulating hormone balance and reducing menstrual cramps (Kanchibhotla et al. 20236).
6. Fights Metabolic Syndrome
Metabolic syndrome is a collective term for the following health risks (Huang et al. 20097):
- High blood sugar (due to insulin resistance)
- Unhealthy Blood Lipids (triglycerides)
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Low HDL levels (high-density lipoprotein, the “good cholesterol”)
- Obesity (adiposity)
It is not uncommon for people with these conditions to develop type 2 diabetes.
A recent study examined the effect of a 12-week hatha yoga program, which included the butterfly pose, on people suffering from metabolic syndrome.
The yoga group significantly decreased waist circumference, blood sugar, and triglyceride levels (Lau et al. 20158).
7. Improves Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome is a complex condition characterized by abdominal pain and abnormal bowel function.
People between 11 and 18 with IBS underwent a yoga practice in a clinical setting that included cross-legged sitting.
The adolescents had significantly lower gastrointestinal symptom scores and emotional avoidance behaviors after the yoga intervention.
The participants found the yoga helpful and indicated they would continue using it to manage their IBS (Kuttner et al. 20069).
8. Reduces Pelvic Pain
American researchers studied the effects of yoga exercise on chronic pelvic pain. One exercise in the program was the butterfly.
It helped the ladies studied, aged 31 to 64, reduce their pain and improve their quality of life and sexual function (Huang et al. 201710).
How to Do the Butterfly Pose
You can do the butterfly pose at the beginning or end of your yoga routine or on its own:
- Begin in a seated position with your legs extended and spine erect.
- Gently bend your knees and press the soles of your feet together, bringing them close to your pelvis.
- Grasp each foot with one hand and rest your elbows on the insides of your thighs to gently open them.
- Keeping your spine long, inhale deeply, and slowly lower your torso forward as you exhale.
- Pull your shoulders down and back and open your chest.
- Hold the position for at least 30 seconds to one minute.
- To release the posture, stretch your legs forward and support yourself with your hands next to your hips. You can also balance your feet in front of you and rock from right to left.
- Pushing the knees towards the floor: Pushing them down firmly when doing the butterfly pose is a potentially dangerous mistake. The correct (and safest) way to lower your knees is to relax the muscles around your hips. It’s okay if your knees don’t reach the floor. You can let them float in the air or support them with assistive devices.
- Rounding the back: Make sure your back doesn’t round, and your head doesn’t fall forward. The spine must remain straight and the back flat to feel the proper stretch in the hips, legs, and groin while strengthening the core and spine. This includes keeping the head in line with the rest of the spine.
- Lifting your toes off the floor: Ensure you don’t raise your toes when you pick up your feet. This way, you put unnecessary stress on the ankles, which can also pressure the knees. Instead, press the entire outer edge of your foot against the floor and rest your hands on the inner arches of your feet or even around your ankles.
Expert Tips to Improve
- Sitting on the edge of a pillow or folded blanket increases comfort and makes it easier to sit up straight.
- To increase the intensity of the stretch, position your feet closer to your hips.
- You can place pillows or blocks under your thighs or knees for more comfort.
- Sit against a wall to keep your spine upright.
- Hold the position for up to 5 minutes, primarily if you practice it as a yin yoga pose.
- Easy Pose (Sukhasana) to straighten the spine
- Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana) to stretch the thighs and hips
Variations and Modifications
There are several variations of the butterfly pose. You can do these poses individually or combine them into a butterfly sequence:
- Yin Yoga Butterfly: You can stack blocks and pillows in front of you to support your forehead or use a yoga bolster to lower your upper body. Get support from assistive devices to help you surrender to the pose longer and more efficiently.
- Reclined Butterfly Pose: Place a yoga cushion or bolster along your spine or under your shoulders. Support yourself with your hands and gently lie on your back. Stay in this position for up to 10 minutes.
- Supine Butterfly Pose: In this pose, you lie on the floor without any aids, with your back straight, while pressing the soles of your feet together and letting your knees slowly fall outward. The longer you stay in this position, the more you release the tension in your hips, and your knees can fall further outwards by themselves.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What does the butterfly pose stretch?
The butterfly gently but effectively stretches the hips, including the hip flexors and inner thighs.
What is the butterfly pose for the pelvic floor?
Butterfly pose is a yoga pose that builds strength and blood flow to the pelvic floor muscles and gently stretches the hips.
How long should I hold the butterfly pose?
You should be in the posture for at least 30 seconds and can stay for up to 5 minutes or even longer.
Who should not do the butterfly pose?
You should not practice the butterfly if you have injuries to the ankles, knees, hips, groin, inner thigh, sacrum, and sciatica.
1Lau, C., Yu, R., & Woo, J. (2015). Effects of a 12-Week Hatha Yoga Intervention on Cardiorespiratory Endurance, Muscular Strength and Endurance, and Flexibility in Hong Kong Chinese Adults: A Controlled Clinical Trial. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : ECAM, 2015. https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/958727
2Grabara, M., & Szopa, J. (2015). Effects of hatha yoga exercises on spine flexibility in women over 50 years old. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 27(2), 361-365. https://doi.org/10.1589/jpts.27.361
3Luo, X., & Huang, X. (2023). The effects of a yoga intervention on balance and flexibility in female college students during COVID-19: A randomized controlled trial. PLOS ONE, 18(3). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0282260
4DANGEL, A. R., DEMTCHOUK, V. O., PRIGO, C. M., & KELLY, J. C. (2019). Inpatient Prenatal Yoga Sessions for Women with High-Risk Pregnancies: A Feasibility Study. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 48, 102235. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2019.102235
5Holden, S. C., Manor, B., Zhou, J., Zera, C., Davis, R. B., & Yeh, G. Y. (2019). Prenatal Yoga for Back Pain, Balance, and Maternal Wellness: A Randomized, Controlled Pilot Study. Global Advances in Health and Medicine, 8. https://doi.org/10.1177/2164956119870984
6Kanchibhotla, D., Subramanian, S., & Singh, D. (2023). Management of dysmenorrhea through yoga: A narrative review. Frontiers in Pain Research, 4. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpain.2023.1107669
7Huang, P. L. (2009). A comprehensive definition for metabolic syndrome. Disease Models & Mechanisms, 2(5-6), 231-237. https://doi.org/10.1242/dmm.001180
8Lau, C., Yu, R., & Woo, J. (2015). Effects of a 12-Week Hatha Yoga Intervention on Metabolic Risk and Quality of Life in Hong Kong Chinese Adults with and without Metabolic Syndrome. PLoS ONE, 10(6). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0130731
9Kuttner, L., Chambers, C. T., Hardial, J., Israel, D. M., Jacobson, K., & Evans, K. (2005). A randomized trial of yoga for adolescents with irritable bowel syndrome. Pain Research & Management : The Journal of the Canadian Pain Society, 11(4), 217-224. https://doi.org/10.1155/2006/731628
10Huang, A. J., Rowen, T. S., Abercrombie, P., Subak, L. L., Schembri, M., Plaut, T., & Chao, M. T. (2017). Development and Feasibility of a Group-Based Therapeutic Yoga Program for Women with Chronic Pelvic Pain. Pain Medicine: The Official Journal of the American Academy of Pain Medicine, 18(10), 1864-1872. https://doi.org/10.1093/pm/pnw306
Mag. Stephan Lederer, MSc. is an author and blogger from Austria who writes in-depth content about health and nutrition. His book series on Interval Fasting landed #1 on the bestseller list in the German Amazon marketplace in 15 categories.
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