The Butterfly Stretch is Great to Improve Flexibility

Young woman practicing arm exercise at home
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Butterfly Stretch Starting Position

Butterfly stretch. Tracy Wicklund

The butterfly stretch is a yoga-inspired stretch used to increase flexibility through the hips, groin, lower back, and inner thighs. Practice the butterfly stretch to help you become flexible and limber enough to do splits. It is also a very relaxing stretch

To execute a butterfly stretch, begin in a seated position on the floor. Bend your knees to the sides, holding the soles of your feet together with your hands. Remember to pull up through your back and hold your chin up to maintain good posture. It can help you get a better stretch.

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Push Knees Downward

Butterfly stretch. Tracy Wicklund

To perform the stretch, pull your heels toward you while pushing your knees toward the floor as far as you can. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Some people bounce their legs up and down to keep their legs moving and loosen up before going into a deeper, still stretch.

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Stretch Forward

Butterfly stretch. Tracy Wicklund

To complete the butterfly stretch, lean forward with your upper body. Try to keep your back straight as you attempt to lay your chest on your legs. Remember to continue to push your knees toward the floor as you hold the stretch. A good tip here is to clasp your feet and pull your upper body toward your feet. Do this while keeping your back straight to get the most out of the stretch and keep proper form.

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More Stretching Tips

Breathing through the stretch can help you deepen the stretch and boost your flexibility. It can also be a wonderful way to relieve stress. 

Though the stress is used in dance, it is popular in yoga. In the practice of yoga, the butterfly stretch is known as Badhakonasana. Breathing through the pose can also enhance its benefits and help you relax. Inhale when sitting straight up and exhale into the bend when you fold forward. If you want to spend time in the bend, continue to breathe in and out normally. In yoga, you breathe in and out of your nose. If you're more comfortable exhaling out of your mouth, you can do that as well. 

Try a variation of the pose by pulling your feet into your crotch and stretching that way. You can press the soles of your feet together or place them together but open them gently like a book.

When you are entering the stretch, go as far as you are comfortable to create a slight stretch. You don't want to jerk at all or pull yourself down too much or you could pull a muscle -- and that's pretty painful. Also, try not to over-arch your back or round it; just keep your back straight and look forward throughout the stretch without lifting your neck too much. It's okay to look straight ahead or keep your neck in a neutral position and look down as you get closer to the floor. You don't want to cause any strain in your neck.