Each fluttering, colourful butterfly was once a caterpillar. It was not born with the beautiful wings on which it soars. Instead, it had to surrender to a great transformation to see the world in a whole new way and experience newfound freedom. In many ways, our spiritual path is like this. As one of my favorite children’s books, “Hope For The Flowers” by Trina Paulus, reminds us, we can too easily become stuck in basic survival and forget that a butterfly waits to be born within us.
For some of us, great life crises are required to wake us from our worldly sleep so that we open to new possibilities. But for others, we turn to the ancient art and science of Hatha yoga, developed thousands of years ago by enlightened sages to spare us unnecessary pain.
In India, cobblers traditionally sat to repair shoes in Butterfly pose, also known as Bound Angle Pose or Baddhakonasana in Sanskrit (baddha meaning bound; kona meaning angle). This pose opens the flow of life-force energy through the kidneys, sexual and digestive organs, the groin and prostate. Notably, these workers rarely suffered from diseases in those organs.
Safe for most anyone who does not suffer from severe knee, pelvic floor or hip injuries, this simple yoga pose will provide you with an opportunity to gently go within while deepening a rooted sense of connection to the earth. As your spine spills over your hips and you release your forehead towards the ground, your overheated thinking mind eases into surrender to the cooling, compassionate earth. It is a panacea for those suffering from menstrual disorders and of great benefit for any expectant mother, even late in pregnancy.
As you practice Butterfly pose, remember to focus on your breath. Allow the life-force to move into your cells and tissue. Give yourself to the pose. The desire may arise to be more flexible, to extend further into the pose. Avoid this as it will only lead to pain. Instead, allow your body to gently open like a flower, in a rhythm and pace that your breath dictates. Through the spacious quality of your breath, possibilities will arise. Make room for such as you allow yourself to relax, while focusing on the in and out flow of your breath that carries life-force energy.
Please remember that this YEM: Yoga as Energy Medicine exercise series is designed to build one exercise upon the next to provide the greatest benefit. Before starting the butterfly exercise, please do Savasana and The Breathing Wave first to cultivate awareness of life-force energy moving through your body/being.
Find a quiet and relaxed environment where you can lie on the floor on a towel or yoga mat.
Begin with Savasana, bringing your breath awareness from the crown of your head through your body and down into your toes. Feel your whole body breathing.
Then bend your knees, feet flat on the floor, hip width apart, and practice The Breathing Wave.
Once you sense ease through your spine, roll onto your right side, and scoop yourself up into a sitting position. Place the soles of your feet together and allow your knees to part. Place your thumbs on the soles of your feet, palms over the tops, as you open your feet up like a book, which assists in the rotation of your hips. Without pushing, rest your elbows on your knees.
Begin by lengthening your spine, as though you were sitting tall. With your shoulders and hips relaxed, feel the crown of your head float up to the sky as your tailbone releases to the ground. Breathe in and draw energy down your spine through the whale spout in the crown of your head. Exhale, allow the feeling of two-way moving energy to continue down through your feet, and also rebound back up your spine and out through your head.
Breathe in again. On the next exhale, gently start to roll forward, head first, rolling through your neck, down your spine. When you have reached your limit, rest there for a few breaths. Allow your head to respond to gravity, feeling its weight. Remain aware of your tailbone anchored to the Earth.
Breathe in, draw energy down your spine. Exhale, feel the energy move in two directions. Allow your hips to release. Imagine ease and space between each of your vertebrae. Feel the breath move through every part of your body. Continue this for some time.
Should a particular part of your body feel tight, bring more breath awareness there.
As you remain in the pose, become aware of the flow of energy through your body, inhaling down, exhaling two ways. Feel yourself draw life-force energy in on the inhale, and let it radiate throughout your body-being on the exhale. Feel your whole body breathing and energy move through every cell.
Only stay in the pose for as long as you feel comfortable. Do 80% your maximum, and allow a lot of room to breathe and sense.
When you feel you have had enough, gently roll back up vertebra by vertebra, initiating movement from your tailbone. Allow each vertebra to stack one on top of the other. Let your chin and head be the last to rise. Your tailbone remains rooted, while the crown of your head floats upwards. Your shoulders and mind are relaxed.
Gently close your knees and hug them into your chest. Breathe in, draw energy into the spine through the crown of your head. Exhale, two-way moving energy. Feel the downward flow in being rooted, the upward flow of being vital and the sense of wholeness in expansion.
Known as the Positive Possibilities Lady, Parvati inspires magnificence through music, yoga, words and activism. An award-winning musician, Parvati brings joy and hope to top 40 radio with her celestial pop songs “I Am Light”, “Yoga in the Nightclub”, and “Shanti Om”. Founder of “YEM: Yoga as Energy Medicine” and author of “Confessions of a Former Yoga Junkie: A Revolutionary Life Makeover for the Sincere Spiritual Seeker”, Parvati has been featured on radio and television talk shows and news and wellness magazines globally. She is the founder of Parvati.org, a not-for profit dedicated to realizing MAPS: The Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary to help stop global warming. More about MAPS, free YEM videos, self-help articles, her music and more at parvati.tv and parvati.org.