The butterfly pose stretches and strengthens the hip muscles and inner thighs.
Step by step explanation
The butterfly pose can be done by:
Start in a seated position with your legs stretched out in front of you.
Bend your knees, bring the soles of your feet together, and bring your heels close towards your hips. The outside of your feet should be connected to the ground. Open your inner thighs to the sides and allow your knees to naturally drop down towards the ground.
Hold the inner arches of your feet with your hands and gently rotate the insides of your feet outwards.
Keep your weight grounding down through your sitting bones – not leaning the upper body too far forward or back. You want to be sitting upright, allowing your abdomen to engage and lift upwards and your lower back muscles to support you from behind.
Keep drawing the shoulders down and back, and lift your chest slightly up towards your chin which is tucking back down to your chest. Make sure your neck and head are aligned with the spine and not leaning towards the left or right side. Keep the gaze of your eyes looking down towards the ground.
Stay in this pose for at least five long and steady breaths, trying to make each breath deeper and deeper.
If it feels comfortable you can try to fold forward from the hips after a few breathes to get a deeper stretch.
You want to find a depth where you can feel a stretch that is not too forceful or light. While you work on deepening the stretch become aware in which parts of the body you feel tightness and direct your focus to this point using the breath to soften and release tension.
After several breathes or even several minutes, gently release the pose by coming slowly back up with the upper body to an upright and neutral position. Now place your hands under the outside of your knees and bring the knees towards each other. Stretch out the legs in front of you.
If you are concerned about anything of this pose, please contact your physician on whether this practice is good for you.
Making the pose easier
It is not necessary for the outside of your knees to connect to the floor, but you want to avoid having your knees too high from the floor . If your knees are particularly high you can lower them by sitting up on a support like a cushion to give the hips a bit more space. This will make it easier for you to drop the knees down and get the most out of the stretch.