Years ago in Yoga Teacher Training I discovered the benefits of doing less. Embracing restorative yoga, and opening myself up to experiencing less effort was challenging but rewarding. This was especially beneficial in poses where I believed I was “tight” or not as flexible as I wanted to be. One of these poses was Baddha Konasana, or butterfly pose. In this post I want to share this yoga pose for tight hips. What you might be doing wrong. And how to find comfort and ease in the pose. Disclaimer: links in this post may be affiliate links. This means I earn a small commission at no extra charge to you!
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, that must mean video is worth a million right? Check out how to do Baddha Konasana in the video below. You can also choose to view it on YouTube. While you’re there, check out my other videos. And don’t forget to comment, like, subscribe and share!
Baddha Konasana alignment & technique
Traditional alignment cues are a suggestion, or guideline. There are modifications, variations, and alternatives. Whatever you’d like to call them. Basically “one size” does not fit all. In this post the bum is on the floor, soles of the feet come together and the knees fall out to the sides.
However, the above picture may look right to some but it’s not the optimal pose. In the video I admit that I feel NOTHING in this pose, because my hips aren’t allowed to open fully. To express the pose correctly my knees need to be at or below the crease of my hips.
As you can clearly see, my body doesn’t do that. Nor am I “doing less” for the purpose of demonstration. My body simply does not do that naturally from this position.
How can I fix it?
Baddha konasana is a pose is a “hip opener” and if like me you’re not that open in your hips the #1 thing your probably doing wrong is forcing and pushing yourself into someone else’s version of the pose. Instead, modify your pose to allow you to sink and surrender. Pushing down on your knees will not help, nor bouncing! So, stop that immediately.
Seriously, just stop. Not only does it feel like crap, but you also open yourself up to injury. Yoga is NOT about pain. If someone suggests this as a good idea, then tell them it’s not. And definitely DO NOT allow anyone to do this to you without your permission! So what can we do? We can grab props! And instead of pushing down, lift yourself up. Specifically your bum!
Elevate, to open the hips!
By using props to elevate your bum your knees have more space to open. Remember that rule of knees at or below the hip crease? Keep elevating till you get there. I like to use a yoga bolster, that feels the most comfortable for me personally. This elevated position is also how I prefer to sit for meditation. And sitting elevated up, means I can now naturally fall into the knees below hip crease alignment! Ta-da!
Now I know most people don’t have bolsters laying around at home, or the gym (one of the benefits of yoga studios!). Don’t worry, the same thing works with a yoga block. It’s just not as comfortable.
If you only have a blanket. Fold the blanket multiple times and sit on a thick folder corner. No equipment? Change the pose! It’s better to change the pose and feel ease, than force yourself into a pose that’s incorrect for your body. I suggest Sukasana, easy cross-legged seated pose.
My personal experience
In case you think it’s just you, it’s not. I forced myself into ugly baddha konasana for many years. Feeling things in all the wrong places. And, more importantly, not getting and “better” at the pose. Back in 2015 I lifted my bum and immediately noticed the hips and inner thighs lengthen! Just like they were supposed to. Back then I was sitting on a bolster and three folded blankets. After elevating and sitting, practicing the pose, I am now able to fold a blanket and sit with my bum elevated about 3″ rather than my original 12″ or more. What an improvement!
In summary. As a general rule: Please elevate your bum if you’re knees are up around your armpits in Baddha Konasana! It will feel much better, and you’ll allow the body to release the tension you’re holding onto. Plus you’ll eventually begin to open those tight hips. Maybe not in the next week, or month, but trust in the process and it WILL happen.
- How tight are your hips?
- Can you do this pose with knees below the hip crease?
- What yoga poses are challenging for you?
Kristine Nicole Alessandra
I have tried yoga a few times but I couldn’t get into the right poses so I gave up. I may give it a try once more. Thanks for your tips!
Just remember there is no “right way” just the way that feels best for you!
Loved reading this! I am SUPER TIGHT in my hip region, so I have been trying to do more yoga!!
Yay! Let me know if you try it!
It’s so important to know how to help your body without hurting it. This post was so informative and relatable!
Thanks! Moving without pain is so important
Yoga is really gopd for overall health. I want to practice yoga too. This post is very helpful
Glad you found it useful!
I really like that you are sharing that we shouldn’t force ourselves into yoga poses. It is tempting to try and copy what others are able to do but it will only end up injuring our bodies!
Exactly! Do your yoga!!!
Learning to ‘do less’ was the thing that revolutionised yoga for me, suddenly it went from being something that made me feel self conscious and like a failure to something that really connected me to my self and centred me, it was amazing! Love all these tips, really sensible advice xx
I cannot tell you how much I love this comment!!!!!!!
YES YES YES!
I’ve never tried yoga before but a lot of people talk about it. This does seem well explained.
Yoga is great for integrating body and mind.
I usually do pilates or simply stretching but you encouraged me to try some yoga poses! Love your video!
Glad you liked the video! I have a 15 min pilates video on youtube!
great advise! baddha konasana is ‘golden’ asana because I have very flexible hips, I didn’t need to work at all to put my knees on the ground but I always see how many of people in my class struggle with it for years, I will definitely show my fellow-yogies your post
It’s always interesting when people tell me they have flexible hips. Are they flexible both ways? I am not flexible opening out (as in this pose) but I internally rotate VERY well (heroes pose). Our flexibility can be highly dependent on our structure
This is the first time I heard about baddha konasana but this is definitely worth doing. Thank you for sharing this. I am so guilty forcing myself to follow other poses.
I used to be guilty of it too. I think it’s something we learn as we go through our practice
I just did yoga today and had a really hard pose but now I forgot. When I do remember, I will tell you. But I don’t have trouble with Baddha Konasana. I think I don’t focus on the knees going down that much but let the knees sink down (I don’t know if that makes any sense, my focus is more on my breathing and my hands are on my feet).
Yes! Surrendering to it, rather than forcing into it. Exactly!
Wow! I will definitely try this modification because I cannot normally do this in class as I am so, so, so tight! I’ll use these “shelter in place” days to try this. Thanks!
Perfect time to try new things! I love this variation for me as I can feel it in all the right places.
I always have trouble with hip-openers and leg-stretching. I am very strong and flexible in my upper body, but not my lower body. I’ll have to try to raise myself up next time like this!
yay! I hope it helps. For me I am not very open in my hips so this helps me a lot!
Always good to make sure you are doing things like this correctly to avoid an injury
Avoiding injury and going deeper!
These are great tips for making sure you are using the proper technique when exercising. Thanks for the help!
No problem! hope it helps