This classic yoga pose is known by many names. Bhadrasana, the Butterfly pose, and Baddha Konasana, the Bound Angle Pose are most common. It is also known as Throne Pose, Cobbler’s Posture, and the Ankle Knee Pose (IYTA Handbook of 84 Traditional Asanas).
Benefits of Bhadrasana:
This seated posture opens the inner thighs, improves external rotation of the hip and may ease low back pain. This pose stretches the quadriceps, knees and ankles. When combined with awareness of breath, it helps to soften and relax the pelvic floor. It aids in improving posture as the spinal muscles and waist are lengthened and the core activated in the upright position.
Recalling the mythology that is behind the asana (see our recent blog on Throne Pose (Bhadrasana) – the Poise, Power and Humility of the Goddess Durga to read more), this steady upright posture invokes a feeling of poise and power.
We practice humility as we bow our heads, surrendering our attachments over to the Divine. As one folds forward in the posture, the softened spine and inward drishti (gaze) invoke a feeling of introspection and quiets the mind. The muscles of the hips, pelvic floor, back and neck are stretched. The organs of the belly are gently massaged with the movement of the breath. The breath can be calmed and slowed gently as one relaxes into the forward fold, aiding in relaxation and concentration.
Precautions and Modifications:
Those with tight hips and adductors may struggle, but that means this pose is great for them! Here is how to make it more accessible:
- Elevate the hips with a folded blanket or a bolster so that the hips are higher than the knees.
- Use blocks or rolled blankets under the knees if they remain elevated off the floor. The support will allow for the inner thighs and hips to relax, increasing the effectiveness of the posture.
- Those with hip replacements should consult a doctor about this pose before trying this pose as range of motion may be limited.
Discomfort in knees or ankles sometime is felt in this pose:
- Roll a blanket wrap around the ankles like a donut. This will support the ankle joint and hold the feet in place. This support may also provide relief for the knees. Blocks under the knees may also be used for additional support.
Coming Into Butterfly Pose:
Sitting on the floor, bring the soles of the feet together in front of you, drawing them in toward your body as close as is comfortable. Ensure you are able to lengthen the spine with the pelvis in a neutral position. Have a sense of firmness below the navel.
The knees are dropping in the direction of the floor. You may wish to elevate your hips to help with this. You may clasp the feet or big toes here. Inhale to stretch upward through the crown of your head, drawing the jawline inward gently to lengthen the back of the neck. Take several breaths in this steady pose.
You may wish to fold forward with an exhale, keeping length in the spine as you bring the head in the direction of the floor. Remain here for several breaths, enjoying all the pose has to offer. Inhale to rise back up.
- Open the feet apart like a book.
- Flutter your knees like a butterfly moving its wings.
- Level up the relaxation by folding forward over a bolster, or by placing your head on a block or onto the seat of a chair. This may allow you to stay in the pose for much longer, making it very restorative.
- Use a strap around the ankles and behind the hips, creating a loop that you pull tight. This will hold the legs in place, potentially increasing the stretch of the hips, back and inner thighs.
- Lay back into a supine position over a bolster or a folded blanket for a gentle back bending variation.
Bhadrasana, the Butterfly Pose, is one of my favourite yoga postures. It ends up in nearly every class that I offer. It is easy to include as part of your warm ups, as an asana, or as a counter pose to other postures such as seated twists like Ardha Matsyendrasana, the Half Lord of the Fishes pose. I hope you take time to enjoy one of the variations of Bhadrasana today!
Rebecca Stone is an E-RYT500 and the SOYA Lead Faculty member in Alberta. She is leading 200hr and 300hr Yoga Teacher Training Immersions and Weekends in-person near Calgary and Edmonton Alberta as well as Online and Hybrid training programs, including the 300hr Hybrid in Mexico. Born and raised in Alberta, Becky has a private and community practice in Strathmore sharing accessible and adaptable hatha yoga classes for children and adults living with chronic pain, illness and special needs.