Necessity - the mother of invention!
The Buttafly was designed by TillyLou James, a Chartered Physiotherapist and yoga teacher.
“When I began to practice yoga, sitting comfortably in the cross-legged position was one of my biggest challenges,” says TillyLou. “I found it impossible to sit directly on my mat without slouching, making it difficult to breathe properly into the belly and causing my low back to ache.”
Working a Physiotherapist for nearly 30 years, studying posture and movement has been the foundation of her career and she was intrigued to find out how others managed. By this stage she was also training as a yoga teacher and becoming increasingly dismayed by how poorly many practitioners sat, in many cases undoing the benefits of their yoga practice.
Many also complained that they struggled to sit comfortably for meditation and avoided this aspect of yoga. Creatvie by nature, TillyLou determined to come up with a solution that suited as many people as possible.
“I began to play around with bits of foam, cut-up Yoga blocks, wedges, cushions, Charlie, my trusty skeleton from college days, and countless clients only too happy to help.”
The result is the Buttafly. Designed to complement the shape of the pelvis it provides a comfortable and stable base for cross-legged sitting. “At last Sukhasanana – Easy Pose can be just that!” exclaims TillyLou.
Qualified as a Chartered Physiotherapist in the 1980s and trained in the McKenzie Method as well as many other post-graduate courses including hydrotherapy, Clinical Pilates, Traditional Chinese Acupuncture, Arvigo Therapy (Maya Abdominal Massage), the Buteyko technique, the Emotional Freedom Technique (tapping), Matrix Re-imprinting and META-Health.
She is also a qualified Nordic Walking instructor, Infant Massage facilitator and yoga teacher.
“I’m passionate about posture!” says TillyLou. “Not for posture’s sake but for the clues it gives us into our inner landscape. I believe we can heal from the outside in and the inside out – it’s my privilege and pleasure to help people do both.”
The Buttafly for Back Care
The journey from being an ergonomic seat to a unique tool for back care came about quite by chance.
Says TillyLou, “In 2005, I fractured my sacrum in a roller-blading accident leaving me with chronic back problems and a boney callus on my sacrum sufficiently big enough that I cannot lie down on my back on a hard surface.
As soon as the first shipment of Buttaflys arrived I began to explore different ways of using them. I found that placing a Standard Buttafly low down under my pelvis avoided pressure on my sacrum and the boney callus. This was a huge relief and the position was so comfortable I fell asleep! But the biggest surprise of all was that afterwards my spine and pelvis felt freer and more flexible than they had done since before the accident.”
“I began to explore my findings with others, trying out the position on people from all walks of life, both with and without back pain. Like me, many have had fairly transformational experiences – physically and often emotionally too.”
There are many examples in history of how the best inventions come about by accident. In the world of back pain the most famous Physical Therapist is probably Robin McKenzie, author of Treat Your Own Back. “His whole method came about as a result of a patient lying the wrong way up on a treatment couch! ” says TillyLou who trained in his method in the 1990s. “He did not wait until he had clinical evidence to try out the new exercises with patients. Rather he set about an exploratory process, systematically evaluating the effects that simple movements and positions had on his patients’ back pain and over time a clear assessment and management process emerged.” The McKenzie Method of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy has achieved worldwide recognition and is regarded as part of “normal” management for low back pain and research has shown that it is as effective as an MRI scan in diagnosing a prolapsed disc.
Eighty percent of adults will complain of back pain at some point in their lives and 80 percent of cases are diagnosed with Non-Specific Low Back Pain. “This is where there is no known cause of origin. Further, roughly 80 percent of them will get better regardless of advice or intervention,” explains TillyLou. “We must look at what these facts and figures tell us when we consider the nature and seek to manage the symptoms of back pain – it is quite clear that we are a long way off from having all the answers. As such, it is helpful for the many who suffer to be open to different types of treatments – including new ones such as the Buttafly.
The most important thing for people who suffer from back pain is that they are given the right information to help themselves and also, that they are given reassurance that low back pain need not be a life sentence. It’s just that the solutions may be very far from where they are looking.”