YIN SEQUENCE | Transformation of the Butterfly

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Nancy Nelson

Today I want to share with you a sequence that is great for embracing the changes we face in life. I often reflect on the metamorphosis of a butterfly. How, just when a caterpillar knows who she is – she goes into a dark place for a while – then comes out a new version of herself. How beautiful and how incredibly relatable. I once read these words and they spoke deeply to my soul…

Perhaps the butterfly is proof that you can go through a great deal of darkness and still become something beautiful.


My hope is that you remember that whatever circumstances you are currently facing in your life, things are always evolving. Unlike the butterfly, we can begin again with a deep breath whenever we need a fresh start. If you are moving slow and steady like a caterpillar, embrace it – it will not last forever. If you are in a cocoon of darkness and don’t see a way out, breathe deep and look for glimpses of light – it will not last forever. And if you find yourself in a butterfly season of lightness and ease, relish in it – it will not last forever. Being present helps us to cope with the constant evolution that is happening.


  • blocks (2)
  • blanket
  • bolster

Caterpillar (10 min)


For our first pose, we begin as a caterpillar. From a seated position, extend the legs forward and about hips distance from one another. Over the course of several deep breaths, fold and surrender your way forward. Move into this pose gradually, in true caterpillar pace.

After the first 5 minutes, adjust the legs out a bit wider. Find what works for you and then settle right back into the fold. Notice how the sensations shift from the first variation – even if only subtly. Hold the final 5 minutes here.

Reclined Swan (5 min)

Slowly roll to your back and bend the knees, placing the feet to the floor. Cross the left ankle over the right thigh. To begin, start with a lateral stretch. Inch the upper body over to the right a few inches and grab ahold of either elbow above you if you’d like. As you breathe, gently reach the left knee forward a bit with the exhales. Hold this for 2 minutes and then transition back to center with the upper body and draw the thigh in to deepen the stretch in the left hip. I call this the growing a wing phase. It can feel a little compressed and requires a little effort, but soon you will start to break free from your cocoon.

Figure 4 Twist (4 min)

Release the right foot back to the earth, while still keeping the left ankle crossed. Widen the arms to a T position and inch the hips to the left before dropping the left foot to the floor over on the right side. Turn the gaze left if you feel like rotating in the neck. We start to feel a little more spacious in our wings in this posture, but still grounded and entrusting time to open us up when we’re ready.

Repeat reclined swan and figure 4 twist on second side.

Star Pose (2 min)

Our wings now begin to spread out fully. Like a big stretch after a long nap – on your back, begin to widen the legs and straighten them out. Do the same with the arms above you. Connect with your heart beating, breath moving and the space you are able to take up in this moment. Also noting the energy you feel pulsing through you.

Wipers (1 min)

Begin to bend your knees on your back, feet to the floor a little wider than hips distance wipering the knees side to side. These are the first flutters of our brand new wings. Enjoy the lightness and ease as you move.

Butterfly (7 min)

Rise back up to a seated position and find your butterfly pose. Feet together, let them open like a book as they wish. Inch the feet forward so your legs create a nice diamond shape as you open the knees out to the sides. Utilize as much support as you’d like. Put as little effort into this pose as possible. This is a butterfly pose that is meant to help us feel like an actual butterfly. How can you set up your space and your body so you can enjoy a moment of bliss?

Though butterfly phase the shortest period of a butterfly’s life, we will take a good amount of time here. Spend time here being grateful for what is feeling open, connected and complete in this moment. It could just be your breath, your hips or your mindset. Keep it simple.

Legs up the Wall (7 min)

When you are ready to close out your practice find a wall space and extend your legs up the wall to maintain a feeling of lightness. What I like about this pose is that it is also incredibly grounding. If you need a different shape, go for it!

Once done, pause in your fetal pose to enjoy the space and awareness you have created through the practice. Spend a moment grateful that you get to, once more, be born again into the new breath you are taking.

Namaste, sweet friends.

Take a version of this class in video form below (30 min):

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7 Responses

  1. Very creative sequence. I will have to give it a try sometime. Since it is a Butterfly Sequence, could Half Butterfly be included somewhere in the sequence? I’m just curious. If I try out the sequence, I can let you know how it goes.

  2. This is a beautiful sequence. I am excited to try this one out. Thank you for all of the resources you share – sequencing explanations with photos, playlists, etc. Love following you on social!

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Titles for Website (38)
Nancy Nelson
Nancy Nelson
Nancy is the fearless leader here at Nancy Nelson Yoga! She has been instructing yoga since 2012 and is certified as a Registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT 500, YACEP) with Yoga Alliance. She loves guiding yoga classes in all forms – from sweaty vinyasa flows, to slow mindful movement - but her favorite style to practice and teach is yin yoga. She attended a formal 50-hour Yin Yoga training with Bernie Clark and Diana Batts in the fall of 2018 and it truly propelled her into developing her yin focused website, webinars and trainings.

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