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Asana Study: Raising Butterflies

Imagine all movements and poses in our asana practice on a continuum; depending on what your situation is, select an appropriate adaptation from the continuum.

Continuing with a look at how to adapt postures to better fit a student's needs, I dedicate this post to baddha konasana (butterfly pose). Recall from my last post that I first ask, "What physical and energetic benefits does this pose provide me, and how can I experience similar benefits in a way that is more appropriate to my situation?"

Baddha konasana (butterfly pose) & supta baddha konasana (resting butterfly pose):

Butterfly and resting butterfly pose stretch the hips and groins, providing relief for certain back and pelvic floor issues and is recommended for managing fatigue, lower GI issues and menstrual pain. Energetically, it grounds me and I leave the pose feeling centered and settled. In the sitting variation, I connect with the muscles that stabilize and align my spine, while the reclined versions provide a gentle opening around my abdomen without straining my back. In keeping with all of these benefits, I want to practice a variation that offers me:

  • strength or support along my spine

  • lengthening around my belly

  • opening my hips

In order to sit comfortably in this pose, I must engage my muscles along my spine; if my hips are tight, my spinal and hip flexor muscles overwork. Elevating my hips on a blanket, blocks, bolster or some combination of props may be helpful. Here is another option for the sitting upright butterfly using a chair:

Here are some options for the resting butterfly pose:

As you examine the adaptations, notice how each one offers some of the benefits, but not all. How I decide which one to use will depend on what I'm doing with the rest of my practice and why I've chosen this particular pose. In general, when I modify a pose I look at adapting the:

  • base of support (how many contact points with the floor, what props are under me) for the pose

  • intensity

  • complexity (including how many props to wrangle)

  • load (my body position, relationship to gravity)

  • how many repetitions, if any

  • resting between repetitions

  • "temperature" of the pose (a more physically demanding pose will generate more heat, for example)

Try them out and let me know what you think. You may need some options some day, either as a teacher or a practitioner, so keep these close.

Look for more Asana Study posts coming soon...

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