Don’t be intimidated—this pose appears to be much more challenging than it really is! Among fledgling flyers, there’s usually a mistaken notion that arm balances are all about upper body strength, when in actuality, arm balances require a combination of strength, length, openness, and of course, practice.
In fact, Firefly Pose (Titibasana) probably requires less arm strength than most arm balancing poses, but does demand a certain degree of flexibility in the hips and hamstrings. If anything, learning Firefly teaches us to accept that even though we may fall down, we can pick ourselves right back up and shine brighter than ever before.
Before beginning Tittibhasana, warm up with some sun salutations and some shoulder stretches. If you have time, work to open your hips and stretch your spine as well in a few Standing Postures such as parshvakonasana (side angle pose), Triangle Pose (Trikonasana), Warrior 1 Pose (Virabhadrasana I), and Intense Side Stretch Pose (Parshvottanasana). Revolved Triangle Pose (Parivritta Trikonasana) would also help to prepare your back muscles for the postures in the sequence, since the twisting actions can loosen the muscles along the back and aid in the deep forward bending that is part of this sequence.
Benefits of Firefly Pose
Firefly Pose strengthens the wrists and arms, stretches the legs, inner groin and back body. As with any arm balancing pose, Titibasana improves overall balance and encourages playfulness and courage in your practice. Deep stretches hamstring and hip flexibility, opens the chest, and helps you find new strength and perspective. As the name indicates, you may also find that you come away from this pose sporting a healthy glow!
How to Do Firefly Pose (Tittibhasana)
- Take your feet about 18 inches apart (this will vary a bit based on your size). Come into a Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana) with your knees slightly bent.
- Nestle your shoulders as far under your knees as you can. You can bend your knees more if you need too. It’s ok if you can’t get your knees all the way on to your shoulders. The thighs on the upper arms will do.
- Bring your palms flat on the floor just behind your feet.
- Bend your elbows slightly back as you would if you were heading into Four Limbed Staff Pose (Chaturanga Dandasana). Don’t bring the upper arms all the way to parallel with the floor, however.
- Begin to shift your weight back to rest on your upper arms. Let that slight backward momentum lift your feet up off the floor.
- Straighten your arms as much as possible.
- Straighten your legs and hug your upper arms strongly with your thighs.
- Flex your feet.
- Without tensing your neck, lift your head and gaze forward. Breathe slowly and hold the pose for 15 seconds or longer.
- To come out, bend your knees and tip your feet forward until they touch the floor again. (Or just sit down on your butt.)
When you have finished practicing these postures, do Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana) and Shoulderstand Pose (Sarvangasana), if you wish, to stretch your shoulders. Take time to enjoy some gentle reclined twists on the floor and a well-earned Shavasana.
Firefly Pose for Beginners
You can approximate this pose by sitting on the floor, legs spread to a ninety-degree angle, elevating each heel on a block, and pressing your palms into the floor between your legs.
- If you’ve got the hang of some basic arm balances, this pose is actually easier than it looks. For one thing, if you fall you’ll land on your butt instead of on your head as you would in a lot of other arm balances!
- If you can lift the feet off of the floor but can’t straighten your legs, try crossing the feet at the ankles in front of you.
Try Shoulder Pressing Pose (Bhujapidasana) - it also helps you get the feel for how strongly you need to hug your arms with your legs in both poses.
Firefly Pose for Advanced
Once you have your arms and legs straight, you can begin to work on a slight variation on the pose.
- Shift your weight back, taking the forward slant out of your torso and bringing it into a more upright position. Your legs will come along for the ride as your toes begin to point toward the ceiling. It takes a lot of core strength here not to tip back and end up sitting on your butt.
- From firefly pose, transition to Crow Pose (Bakasana) by bringing your legs behind you with the knees on your upper arms. Then jump back to Chaturanga Dandasana. This sequence is from the Ashtanga second series.
Breathe deeply in Tittibhasana
The Firefly Pose is arm balance that incorporates core strength with flexibility in the legs. Once the lower body is lifted from the mat, the pose further strengthens the wrists and shoulders. In order to stay elevated, the lower body must find balance in distributing weight and energy equally forward and back. The full extension of the legs is probably the most difficult part of this pose. Work on getting comfortable with the balance first, even if the legs are just hanging out, and then build the pose by opening up and extending the legs. Happy practicing!