Butterfly Pose

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Butterfly Pose (Figure 2.42) opens the hips. It lengthens the spine and relaxes the shoulders. This pose does not require much muscle strength, but if the hips are very tight, the pose may be uncomfortable at first. In order to make your child more comfortable, yoga blocks may be placed under the knees. This supports the legs and allows the hip and groin area to stretch open gradually. Additionally, a pillow can be used with blocks to raise the hips to make the child more comfortable.

Surprisingly, many children with ASDs do not have a hard time with the hips opening. However, they often do not enjoy sitting on the floor because of low muscle tone and difficulty sitting up straight. In addition, the soles ofthe feet do not have to touch entirely. Often a child is only able to have the heels touch. It is best ifyour child is comfortable in the position, as it is helpful to have your child stay a little longer in this pose to allow the hips and groin to soften and release accumulated tension.

This pose gives a great feeling of freedom throughout the entire body. Much tension is stored in the hip joints. Many yogis believe that unresolved emotions from physical and emotional traumas are stored in the hip area. By releasing this area, both the body and mind may feel freer, lighter, and less encumbered. Children with ASDs often have a hard time with daily living due to the symptoms oftheir disorder. Because they often have difficulty expressing themselves to others, these kids may internalize their daily stresses. This pose may help kids with ASDs release the stress in their bodies.

Children with ASDs understand the idea of Butterfly Pose. They are often relieved that the forward bending is over. They often feel "all wrung out" and "really relaxed" at this point in the yoga practice.

We suggest that you tell your child to close his eyes and imagine that his legs are opening like beautiful butterfly wings. Tell your child to imagine that his breath is opening the wings of the butterfly and allowing all the old energy to release. His breath brings in new, fresh energy into the body. Although children may think that it is "weird" to think about the butterfly image, they can benefit from using such a visualization. Do not be afraid to make up stories or images to assist your child in getting into and staying in the yoga poses. These images will undoubtedly stay with your child and make the yoga practice more interesting.

1. Sit at the back of your mat with your legs outstretched and take a deep breath.

2. Slowly bend your legs and bring the soles of your feet together in front of your groin. Bring your feet as close as possible to your groin. Take care not to strain your knees while bringing your feet together. Only bring your feet as close to your groin as is comfortable.

3. Try to bring the soles of your feet together. Do not worry if your heels do not touch.

4. You may need to place a block under each knee to help support your legs and to ease the stretch on your hips (Figure 2.43).

5. Grasp your feet with both hands and sit as erect as possible while inhaling. You will feel your spine elongate and your chest expand as you take a breath.

6. Take three breaths. Try to concentrate on feeling the hips open from the weight of gravity pressing on your legs. After your hips become more open, the blocks may be removed to allow for more hip opening.

7. Eventually, you may be able to grasp your feet around the top and open your feet as you would open a book, allowing for a fuller opening in the hips. For the beginner, this step may be omitted.

8. Use your breath to relax your body and try to imagine that the tight areas in the hips are receiving support from your breath. You may tell your child to imagine that any tightness is being lifted off the hips and out of the body like floating balloons each time he exhales. Eventually the hips will soften and release and he will experience the extremely freeing feeling that comes from the hip opening poses.

9. After you are finished with the breaths, slowly straighten your legs in front of you and take several deep breaths. Allow your body to relax before continuing with the next pose.

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