Baddha Konasana (Butterfly): A Misunderstood Hip Opener

Baddha KonasanaSince I was a little girl in dance, I have been doing Baddha Konasana. In dance class, we called it Butterfly. I’m specifically referring to the posture here as Baddha Konasana because Yin yoga has a pose that they call Butterfly. It looks just like this, except you let go of all your muscular energy.

This pose that I’m describing is an active pose. We maintain muscular energy. In fact, we rely on it to open the hips.

When I was in dance class, the teacher had us grip our feet with our hands and use our elbows to press our knees to the floor. This is not how you do Baddha Konasana. If you try to do it this way, you will injure yourself.

In any yoga pose, paying attention to your energy is important. Here, the soles of your feet meet each other with even energy. That energy travels up your legs to your hips and helps your femurs externally rotate. (This means it helps your thigh bones turn out.) Because of this energy from the feet, your hips will naturally open and allow your knees to come closer to the mat.

Please do not ever use any part of your upper body as a tool to press your knees down.

Baddha Konasana

To vary Baddha Konasana, you can bring your feet closer or further away from you. You can also place a yoga block between your feet. Regardless of any of these modifications, you will still follow these steps to do Baddha Konasana.

  1. We will be using ujjayi breathing.
  2. Have a seat in Dandasana.
  3. Bring the soles of your feet together. Make sure that you still feel your SITs bones pressing into the mat. Also ensure that your right and left foot are pressing evenly into each other.
  4. Allow your heels to come toward your perineum. As your feet move, make sure to keep contact between the right and left foot.
  5. If your knees are higher than your hips, you can sit up on a bolster or increase the distance between your heels and perineum. Do what you can to bring your hips higher than your knees.
  6. Use your pointer finger and thumb to loop around each foot’s big toe.
  7. Lengthen through the spine, lifting the ribs away from the hips and drawing the belly button to the spine.
  8. Baddha KonasanaHinge from the hips to lower the upper body forward. For the moment, keep a straight spine. Be aware that, in order for your spine to move forward, your pelvis must rotate. As the pelvis moves, so will your SITs bones.
  9. Relax your head and spine forward.
  10. Take 5-8 long breaths.
  11. Engage the abdominals and lift up. You can repeat this or just practice it once.

Baddha Konasana Video

Here is a video for visual learners.

What other hip openers do you enjoy? Let me know in the comments.

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Sarah Stockett is STOTT certified in Matwork, Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, & Barrels, Injuries & Special Populations, and CORE; a Yoga Alliance RYT-200; and has studied Active Isolated Stretching. When she is not trying to discover the best exercises to get rid of pain, she likes watching movies and travelling with her family.

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