Half Butterfly

The Half Butterfly Explained

The Half Butterfly Performed

Benefits:
Half Butterfly
  • Stretches the lower back without requiring loose hamstrings
  • Targets the ligaments along the back of the spine
  • Stimulates the liver and kidneys and aids digestion (when folding over the straight leg) [1]

Contra-indications:
  • Can aggravate sciatica. If you have sciatica, elevate the hips by sitting on a cushion, until the knees are below the hips, or avoid this pose entirely. Beware of hips rotating backward while seated; we want them to rotate forward
  • If you have any lower back disorders which do not allow flexion of the spine, then do not allow the spine to round: keep the back as straight as you can or do the reclining version
  • Avoid dropping the head down if the neck has suffered whiplash or has reverse curvature
  • Beware of any sharp pain in the knees. If you have issues in this area, tighten the top of the thigh (engage the quadriceps), which will close the joint, or bring the legs closer together
  • If the bent knee complains, place support under that thigh or move that foot away from the groin
  • If the hamstrings protest, bend the straight knee and support the thigh with a blanket or block

Getting Into the Pose:
  • From a seated position, draw one foot in toward you and stretch the other leg straight out to the side. Allowing your back to round, fold forward, down the middle between both legs

Alternatives & Options:
  • Folding over the straight leg may stretch the hamstrings more
  • Reach the opposite hand to the extended foot and/or lower that shoulder to emphasize the side of the spine
  • Add a twist to the spine by resting the elbow on the thigh and the head in that hand (or for more flexible students, placing the arm alongside the straight leg) and the other arm behind the back or over the head. Rotate the chest toward the sky. This deepens the emphasis along the side of the ribs and spine
  • Place the foot of the bent knee in Virasana (folded backward behind the buttock), but only if knee doesn't complain

Coming Out of the Pose:
  • Slowly roll up, pushing the floor away with your hands. Before straightening the opposite leg, lean back on your hands to release the hips. Then slowly straighten the leg

Counter poses:
  • Sitting up or a gentle sitting back bend
  • Flow into Tabletop (aka Hammock)
  • Windshield Wipers

Meridians & Organs Affected:
  • Urinary Bladder;
  • If there is a lot of sensation in the groin and inner legs, the Liver and Kidneys are stimulated

Joints Affected:
  • Spine, especially the back and side
  • Knees, knees, although this is not as deep of a stretch for the inner knees as the Dragonfly

Recommended Hold Times:
  • This can be held a long time about five minutes, with the variations added after about three minutes

Similar Yang Asanas:
  • Janusirsasana, but here we aren't trying to bring the head to the foot; rather, we are bringing the head to the knee. Allow the back to round
  • This pose is nice for pregnant women because the legs are abducted, providing space for the belly
  • Paul Grilley calls the variation with the foot in Virasana, the Half Frog



The above video is an extract from Using Props in Yin Yoga,
which is a 50-minute video.




1 -- Iyengar, Light on Yoga.


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