All yoga postures teach patience, but Tittibhasana (Firefly Pose) can seem like an overachiever in empowering you with that lesson. Firefly brings an intense demand of your buttocks (glutes), backs of thighs (hamstrings), and palm sides of your wrists (wrist flexors).
The pose demands that you find stability and poise while exerting your muscles in ways you perhaps haven’t before. So you may want a little support to help you feel the pose in your body prior to exploring its full expression.
Here are three variations of Firefly that you can use while working up to the full expression of the pose—or just enjoy them on their own.
In this variation of Firefly, you’ll come almost completely into the pose. The only difference: your knees remain slightly bent, which is ideal if you have tight hamstrings (or if you feel pain as you try to straighten your legs). Because your legs aren’t fully straightened, they’ll remain closer to the ground, which helps with balance. The pose is no cheat, though, as it still demands ample arm, wrist, and core strength as well as poise. And yes, you’ll still experience the exact same exhilaration as being in the straight-legged expression of the pose.
When you’re at this stage of variation on Firefly, you can practice to go beyond it with poses that stretch your hamstrings, including those that create the same shape that Firefly demands, such as Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend) and Upavistha Konasana (Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend). Also instrumental are Yin Yoga poses, which are longheld stretches that emphasize stretching the tight connective tissues surrounding your muscles. While most Yin stretches will help you achieve the flexibility demanded by this pose, be certain to include Butterfly, Half Dragonfly, Dragonfly, and Caterpillar.
Using blocks in Firefly is ideal if your arms aren’t long (everyone’s anatomy is different!) or if your shoulders or hips tend to be tight. This approach effectively lifts the ground to meet you, which lengthens your arms and creates more space in your midsection as you come into the pose since you don’t need to flex quite so deeply at the hips. It also takes some of the pressure off your wrists and shifts your center of gravity upward, which can make finding—and maintaining—your balance somewhat easier. You’ll need 2 blocks for this variation.
• Come into Malasana (Garland Pose).
• Place your hands onto blocks on the floor. Make certain the blocks are on the lowest level.
• Press into your hands so there is little to no weight on your feet. You may want to try lifting one or both feet slightly off the floor. Start by lifting one foot an inch or so off the mat, then lowering it and lifting your other foot. Then try lifting both feet at once.
• Hold for several breaths. Then slowly come out of the pose the same way you came into it.
Also try: 10 “Blockasanas” to Strengthen Your Core
Because your weight is supported by the chair in this variation of Firefly, you’ll need less strength in your abdominals, legs, and arms. And because your arms are given a lift by blocks, it demands less shoulder and hip flexibility.
Relying on this support allows you to experience the shape of the pose and recognize the parts of your body where you can challenge yourself to build strength and flexibility. Don’t assume this variation is easy, though. It still requires you to draw on strength and self-awareness.
• Sit on the front edge of a chair with your legs wide, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor.
• Lean forward and bring your hands to blocks at any height.
• Make sure you feel stable on the chair. Then begin to slowly straighten your legs as much as you can without forcing it.
• Stay for a few deep breaths, then put your feet back on the floor.