In Tittibhasana (firefly pose), tittibha is the Sanskrit word for "firefly." The firefly pose is an advanced asana for yogis at an intermediate or advanced level. It is not an asana for beginners. The posture resembles the insect in flight.
Step Into Firefly Pose
Firefly pose takes moderate upper body and arm strength, good flexibility in the hamstrings and hips, and balance. It's often one of the first arm balancing poses intermediate yoga practitioners do. If you are new to yoga, you should not attempt this pose until you've worked your way up to performing it. For intermediate to advanced yoga practitioners wishing to add firefly pose to their practice, do the following.
- Start in standing with your feet just wider than hip-distance apart with your toes pointing slightly outward.
- Work your feet outward into a comfortable wider stance.
- Slowly move into a low squat with your knees barely hip distance apart.
- Put your hands into Anjali mudra with your elbows pressing on your knees to press them apart and stretch your hips while lengthening your back.
- Press your feet into the floor.
- Place your hands onto the floor in front of you, rising slightly from your squat to do so. Place your knees pressed again the backs of your arms.
- Move your hands to behind your heels with your thumb and fingers splayed so you rest your heels in the space between your thumb and fingers with your fingertips pointing forward. Do this one hand at a time so you don't topple over. It requires balance and control.
- Lower your hips into a squat with your thighs resting on the backs of your arms.
- Lift your head and look forward to help maintain balance. Press your palms down into your yoga mat.
- Shift your weight backwards towards your hands, lifting your heels off the floor as your hands take more of your weight.
- Lift one foot up and then the other, maintaining balance.
- Now, engaging your core, straighten your legs in front of you slowly.
- Breathe and hold for 15 seconds or longer. Maintain a soft gaze ahead of you to help you stay balanced.
- When you release the pose, do so from the core, not as a swinging motion of the legs.
Contraindications and Adaptations for Firefly Pose
If you have wrist, back, elbow, or shoulder injuries, do not perform this pose. You can also adapt the pose in the following ways:
- To support the wrists, place your hands on a rolled-up yoga mat or a sponge-like ball cut in half.
- If in the squat you are unable to keep your heels in contact with the floor, place a folded blanket underneath them.
Firefly Pose for Beginners
Beginners can approximate Firefly pose and prepare to do it by doing the following:
- Sit on the floor on your yoga mat with your legs extended out in front of you and widened at a 90° angle.
- Sit back on your sit bones.
- Place your heels up on yoga blocks.
- Place your hands in front of you flat on the floor with your fingers splayed and facing forward and press into the mat to rise your bottom from the mat. Hold only as long as is comfortable.
Preparatory Poses for Firefly Pose
To prepare your body for Firefly pose, you can practice the following asanas.
- Wide legged forward bend lengthens and stretches hamstrings.
- Garland pose improves balance and is one of the stages of getting into firefly pose.
- Bound angle pose stretches the groin and opens the hips.
- Lizard pose helps increase hip and shoulder flexibility.
Firefly Pose Tips
When working into firefly pose, consider the following:
- Always work your way up to the pose by warming up and stretching/opening your hips and shoulders as well as your hamstrings and groin.
- Move slowly into the pose, pausing in any of the phases and preparatory poses to make sure you're comfortable and warmed up.
- If you feel pain, stop and return to the previous posture.
- If you can't fully extend your legs in the pose at first, then work with bent legs or practice extending one leg at a time while keeping the other on the floor.
- For balance, keep your head up, your core tight, and your eyes focused forward.
Benefits of Firefly Pose
Firefly pose provides the following benefits:
- Strengthens arms, wrists, and core
- Tones abdominal region
- Improves balance
- Improves flexibility in the legs, back, and groins
Adding Firefly Pose to Your Yoga Practice
Adding firefly pose to your yoga practice is a good way to begin working with arm balancing poses. Take it one step at a time to allow yourself to truly understand and be physically ready before you incorporate this pose into your yoga practice.