What’s in a name?
Baddha Konasana can be an intimidating pose, particularly to someone with a restricted range of motion in the hips and torso. Call it Bound Angle Pose and it can sound downright tortuous.
By referring to it as Butterfly Pose, I notice a bit less tension in the room when I’m including it in a class. Butterflies flutter, dance through the air, laze about perched on flowers. Butterfly pose can’t be that bad.
And bad it’s not (unless you’ve a hip replacement or other injury that you’ll want to ask your doctor about before rotating the hip).
This inner groin area gets especially tight in movement disorders. The result affects gait, balance, and tension in the lower back. Lengthening the adductors, or groin muscles, has a number of benefits. Besides improving gait and balance, this pose can help with sleep and depression.
In this modification, we perch on a chair before fluttering our wings. This is helpful to anyone who finds it difficult to get down onto the mat. The position of the hips when seated at the edge of a chair also tends to keep the spine in a good position when it might get rounded when on the mat.
Have a bolster and blocks ready. Start by stacking two blocks between your feet. Or, you can choose to stack one block atop a bolster.
We begin at the front edge of the chair in seated Tadasana or seated Mountain pose. Notice that the sitting bones are even on the chair, hips level, ribs aligned over hips, shoulders broad and relaxed. On an inhale, lengthen up through the spine.
Bring the outside of the right foot onto the top block. Maintain the lengthening out through the crown of your head. On an exhale, let the outside of the right knee drop towards the floor. Stay here for another cycle or two of breath.
Return the right foot to the mat and bring the outside of the left foot to the top of the block and do the same as for the right.
Rather than return the left to the mat, bring the foot up to the block. Allow the soles of the feet to touch.
Like a butterfly, flutter your wings. On an exhale, bring your knees together. On an exhale, extend them down away from each other. Bring your attention to the head of the femurs, the tops of the thigh bones. Imagine them dropping down into the seat of the chair.
After a few rounds. the next time you’re extended, use the hands or forearms to add a small amount of pressure. Feel if that helps add to the opening.
To come out of this pose, bring your knees together before returning your feet to the mat. Wiggle your toes. If there is any tightness in the outer hip, try a simple seated twist. Before rising, rest your thoughts for a moment not on what bound angle connotes but on the light, airiness of the butterfly.