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Arm Balance Yoga Poses

Firefly Pose

Want to fly? Fire up your core. Firefly pose is an arm balance pose that requires more core strength than arm strength.

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In Tittibhasana (Firefly Pose) your legs extend forward like a firefly’s antennae. But that’s not the posture’s only connection to it’s namesake. Fireflies glow from within, and this pose invites you to do just that. So harness your inner energy, and get ready to shine.

This a demanding posture. Lifting your pelvis while bringing your thighs parallel to the floor requires a strong core, hip flexors, and arms. It also calls for energy and concentration. That might be why yoga teacher Kathryn Budig suggests saving it for days when your energy is high and you feel really strong.

Firefly basics

Sanskrit: Tittibhasana (tee-tee-BAH-sah-nah)

Pose type: Arm balance

Targets: Upper body

Why we love it: “Each time I’ve come into anything approximating Tittibhasana, or Firefly Pose, it’s taught me patience (not to mention humor!) regarding my own practice,” says Yoga Journal senior editor Renee Schettler. “It’s the sort of balancing posture that requires strength, flexibility, trust, and an unflinching willingness to fall. The pose challenges and reminds me of where I still need work. And, with each attempt, it brings me some appreciation for how far I’ve come, if even in my willingness to try again.”

Schettler, who is also a yoga teacher, says this pose reminds her of the important art of sequencing. “It’s important to structure a class such that the body is stretched, challenged, and opened by introducing the requisite shape and effort in different postures. Then a pose that once seemed so challenging seems like an almost intuitive next posture. It’s at that point, and not before, that you’re able to do the pose,” she says. “Or, if you’re me, almost do it.”

Join Outside+ today to get access to exclusive pose information, including our complete guide to Firefly, featuring video instruction, anatomy know-how, and additional pose variations. 

Pose benefits

Firefly pose stretches the hamstring, groin, and back torso; improves hip flexibility; opens the chest; and helps you find new strength and perspective.

Firefly Pose: Step-by-step instructions

  1. Start in a Standing Forward Bend, with your toes pointing slightly out and your knees slightly bent.
  2. Take your right hand through your legs to clasp your right calf, placing your right shoulder behind your right knee. Then place your right hand on the floor behind your heel with fingers facing forward.
  3. Repeat this process on the left side.
  4. Tilt your chest forward and carefully lower your legs onto the backs of your upper arms.
  5. Inhale, lift your feet off the mat and straighten your legs. Your feet can be pointed or flexed. 
  6. Hold the pose for 15 seconds or longer, then release your feet to the floor with an exhale.

Beginner’s tip

While you’re building up arm strength, you can approximate this pose by sitting on the floor, legs spread to a ninety-degree angle. Elevate each heel onto a block and press your palms into the floor between your legs.

Teaching Tittibhasana

These tips will help protect your students from injury and help them have the best experience of the pose:

  • It’s important to warm up for this pose. Invite students to warm up their legs, hips, and core with a few rounds of Sun Salutation. Cue them to take Cat-Cow Pose after their first Downward-Facing Dog Pose. Then have them weave the following poses into their Sun Salutation vinyasa: Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge), Parivrtta Parsvakonasana (Revolved Side Angle Pose), and High Lunge. After the final Down Dog in the last round of their Sun Salutes, invite them to take Malasana (Garland Pose) for 5–10 breaths to open their lower back and spine.
  • Students with shoulder, elbow, wrist or low back injuries should avoid or limit this pose, or take a variation like the one below.

Variation: Bent Knee Low Firefly

firefly variation

If you’re still building up the strength and stability to fully straighten both legs, keep them low to the ground.

Preparatory poses

Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

Plank Pose

Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose)

Malasana (Garland Pose)

Garudasana (Eagle Pose) (arms only)

Bakasana (Crane Pose)

Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)

Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Forward Bend)

Upavistha Konasana (Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend)

Counter poses

Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose)

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