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Weekly Asana; Reclined Butterfly

This pose can have a few different names depending on the perspective we adopt. In Yin Yoga, it would be considered a lying Butterfly pose.

Physically, the knees bend and the feet come together making a diamond shape with the legs, opening the hips up into a position of external rotation. With the legs in this shape, we can get a nice stretch through the groin and inner thighs. If there’s a bolster or folded blanket under the back, you might bring some gentle spinal extension into the pose. Depending on the angle of the props used and the position of the arms, you might be able to get a nice opening across the chest and front of the shoulders. Practicing this pose can help increase circulation to the pelvis and

From our Yin perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine, sensation along the outer thighs suggests stimulation of the Gall Bladder Meridian lines while a sensation along the inner thighs stimulate the Liver Meridian Lines. Liver chi is responsible for regulating the movement of chi throughout the body. A bolster underneath the back can gently compress and stimulate the kidneys. One might hold this pose from 3 to 6 minutes, depending on preference.

We can use blankets or blocks underneath the body for support as well as other props such as a strap and an eye pillow in order to practice this posture in a much more restorative manner. With the body supported, one might hold this pose for much longer periods of time. Make sure the knees are happy here, and remember to prop up the thighs and knees as necessary. Consider exploring the pose with the feet at various distances from the body.

Allowing the body to fold forward is a great compliment to Butterfly pose. This can be practiced before or after the reclined version. It’s one of my favorite postures because it brings a deep opening into the hips and inner thighs while also gently maintaining the lumbar curve in the back. When my legs are strapped to the body just above the hips, you can bring a little bit of traction to the spine by releasing the legs away from the body. I sometimes practice this posture for 10 minutes or more, depending on the day. With appropriate support, I’ve definitely fallen asleep in this pose.

Coming out of the pose, I like to come lying down on the mat with my knees bent and windshield wipe knees from left to right. I then hug my knees into my chest and rock from side to side. I find that this pose provides a very rejuvenating effect on the body if you practice it regularly.

Clark, Bernie. The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga (Ashland, OR: White Cloud Press, 2012)
Powers, Sarah. Insight Yoga (Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications, 2008)

Contributing Author: Aaron Ali. Aaron has had a passion for yoga since his teenage years. Currently located at the Yonge and Eglinton studio, Aaron loves to share his love for Yin and Restorative yoga with all of his students, enriching their practice with every bliss-inducing asana.