the half butterfly practices are for loosening up the knee and hip joints for meditative poses. Those people who cannot sit con1fortably in cross-legged positions should practise half-butterfly daily, both morning and evening. Both stages of full butterfly prepare the legs for mastery of lotus posture and other meditative positions. The inner thigh muscles hold a lot of tension which is relieved by these techniques. They also remove tiredness due to long hours of standing and walking.
Sit in the base position. Bend the right leg and place the right foot comfortably on the left thigh. Place the right hand on top of the bent right knee. Hold the toes of the right foot with the left hand. This is the starting position.
STAGE 1 While breathing in, gently move the right knee up towards the chest. Breathing out, gently push the knee down and try to touch the knee to the floor. The trunk should not move. Do not force this movement in any way. The leg muscles should be passive, the movement being achieved by the exertion of the right arm. Slowly practise 10 up and down movements.
AWARENESS On the movement of the knee, ankle and hip joints, relaxation of the inner thigh muscles, and the breath.
STAGE 2 Remain in the same position with the right leg on the left thigh. Relax the right leg muscles as much as possible. Push the right knee down with the right hand and try to touch the knee to the floor. Do not strain. Let the knee spring up by itself. The movement is achieved by use of the right arm only. Practise 30 up and down movements in quick succession. Breathing should be normal and unrelated to the practice.
Repeat stages 1 and 2 and the “Unlocking Procedure” (see note below) with the left leg.
AWARENESS On the movement of the knee, ankle and hip joints and relaxation of the inner thigh muscles.
UNLOCKING PROCEDURE Gently straighten the leg after completing the practice, then again slowly and carefully bend it once, bringing the heel near the groin, then stretch the leg in front fully. This procedure will ensure that the knee joint is realigned correctly.
Sit in the same starting position as for Half Butterfly with the right foot on the left thigh. Use the right hand to rotate the right knee in a circle and make the circular movement as large as possible. The index finger may be pointed out and used as a guide to perfection of the circular movement. Practise 10 rotations clockwise and then 10 rotations anticlockwise. Straighten the leg slowly. Repeat with the left leg.
BREATHING Inhale on the upward movement. Exhale on the downward movement.
AWARENESS On the rotation of the knee, ankle and hip joint, and the breath.
People with sciatica and sacral conditions should avoid this exercise.
Sit in the base position. Bend the knees and bring the soles of the feet together, keeping the heels as close to the perineum as possible. Fully relax the inner thigh muscles.
STAGE 1 Clasp the feet with both hands. Gently move the knees up and then down towards the floor, but do not use any force. Practise up to 30 up and down movements.
STAGE 2 Keep the soles of the feet together. Place the hands on the knees. Using the hands, gently push the knees down towards the floor, allowing them to spring up again. Do not force this movement. Repeat 10-30 times. Straighten the legs and relax. The breathing is normal and unrelated to the practise.
AWARENESS On the hip joint, movement and relaxation.
Text: Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha Swami Satyananada Saraswati Yoga Publications Trust, Munger, Bihar, India Illustrations: Elly-Lynne Tiburcio