Benefits Of A Butterfly Stretch If You WFH

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If you work remotely and spend much of your day sitting at the computer, chances are you have some sort of regimen down when it comes to stretching and taking movement breaks to relieve the stiffness that inevitably comes from being sedentary for much of the day. Working from home has many benefits, like comfy attire and no commute, but it's also key to make sure you're caring for yourself in ways you might forget about without the routine of leaving the house for work.


And on days that don't leave much time for even a condensed yoga practice or quick joybreaks to shake things up, something as simple as a butterfly stretch can truly make waves when it comes to staying in alignment. When done properly and for the right amount of time, the butterfly stretch can alleviate tightness in the hips. "We sit, work, walk, and run in the same plane of motion. When you press your knees wide, you are moving your body laterally and literally opening up," Katy Neville, fitness instructor and head of fitness and programming at Onyx, told Byrdie. Here's more on adding this effective stretch to your WFH routine.

How to do a butterfly stretch

To reap the full benefits of the butterfly stretch, sit on the floor or your yoga mat, and put the soles of your feet together. The stretch will be deeper when your feet are closer to your body. With your knees open and your hands on your feet, you'll want to elongate your spine and press your chin to your chest -– you can also opt to wrap your pointer fingers around your big toes.


This will provide a deep stretch to the hips –- the health of which is more important than you may realize. "They're the basis for your entire spinal column and they control the legs. Any type of movement that you're doing, whether it's athletic exercise or even just in your life ... the hips are the major joint allowing you to move," Lindsay Monal, R.Y.T., a yoga teacher at YogaRenew Teacher Training, told Shape. Hold the butterfly stretch for about two minutes and repeat several times.

Modifications for the butterfly stretch

Everyone's range of motion and flexibility varies, so modifying the pose to be comfortable, safe, and effective for your body type is totally natural. If you're finding that you feel more pain and discomfort instead of a deep and relaxing stretch, you may need to use a prop or modify the butterfly pose. Scooting up against a wall can be helpful if you struggle with back pain and could use some additional support.


If you're finding that the butterfly stretch isn't deep enough for you, you could try reclining and lying on your back in the pose. Adding a pillow or yoga block under the middle of your back will open up the chest and likely provide a super satisfying stretch. Another option is to bend all the way forward –- rather than just placing chin to chest -– so that your torso is touching the mat or is as close as it can get without being painful.

Hip relaxation is one benefit

You'll likely notice right off the bat that this stretch is deeply relieving for the hips and lower back. When the hips are in prime shape, flexible, and relaxed, the rest of the body benefits. This is especially key for remote workers who may move from their work desk to the couch throughout the day and don't always sit in the most aligned postures that support the joints. "[The hips] take on standing stress, sitting stress, and stabilizing stress," Chelsey Wilkens, NASM-CPT, a trainer at Soho Strength Lab in New York, told Health. "Adding strength to the part of your body that gives you the greatest support will improve your ability to move throughout daily tasks without hesitation."


With the number of ergonomic chairs out there to support those who spend their days at a computer, there are certainly some geared toward hip health. According to Ergonomic Trends, the Steelcase Series 2 Office Chair takes the cake when it comes to relieving hip pain, so it's a good option for anyone needing support for the hips in particular.

Calming perks of the butterfly stretch

Even if you aren't necessarily feeling stiff and sore, but maybe overwhelmed or on the verge of a stress spiral due to your remote workload, the butterfly stretch may still be a saving grace. As is true of most deep stretches, the nervous system experiences a benefit when we engage with these poses and do so regularly with intention. "Different poses have different energetic qualities to them, and forward folds tend to be more relaxing, more down-regulating for the nervous system," Monal told Shape.


Stepping away from the desk and taking a movement break or a joybreak can truly shift the flow of your workday, refresh your mind and body, and give you the energy boost you've been looking for. Practicing butterfly stretches with a few other stretches you find to be deeply relaxing are sure to put you on this path. Meditation, breathwork, and positive affirmation are also, of course, always great contenders for finding that state of calm.

Other poses for the hips

If you're reading this and realizing your hips do need a little additional TLC, here are a few more poses to support, stretch, and ease the hips throughout a long WFH day. According to Yoga Journal, doing an adaptation of downward dog known as three-legged downward-dog -– which is just what it sounds like -– can be relieving for the hips. Go into downward dog as you typically would and then extend one leg back and up in the air. Hold for about 10 seconds and then reverse legs. 


Lunges, pigeon pose, and lizard pose are also all deeply beneficial for opening the hips. So in addition to butterfly stretch — again, it's great for the hips as well as digestion, circulation, and menstrual pain (via Healthline) — try adding in a few of these simple and restful yoga poses. This way, your hips are reaping the full benefits of body movement to best support you throughout your work-from-home day.