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Arm Balance Yoga Poses

Your Body in Firefly | Tittibhasana Anatomy

Learn which muscles activate as you hold Firefly Pose.

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Firefly pose is similar to Bakasana (Crow Pose). It strengthens your upper body and links your upper and lower appendicular skeletons to create stability. Tittibhasana also strengthens your quadriceps and psoas muscles, stretching the back of your body in the process.

Your body in Firefly

In Tittibhasana, both of your hips flex and your knees extend.  Your inner legs press against your arms, connecting your upper and lower extremities and bracing your elbows. By joining your inner thighs and upper arms, you draw strength from the core of your pelvic and shoulder girdles—this is what helps you balance in the pose.

Firefly is a symmetrical posture that is similar to Bakasana but shifts your center of gravity further forward. The extension of your legs is balanced by the outward push of your arms against your thighs to maintain equilibrium in the pose. You are also lifting your torso against the downward pull of gravity.

Get to know Firefly

Fine adjustments to the pose can be made by flexing and extending your ankles. Here are a few to try:

  • Point your feet. This projects your center of gravity forward. Try it and feel how this affects the distribution of weight in your hands.
  • Flex your hips and trunk at the same time. This action tilts the legs upward. Try this while squeezing your thighs into your arms.

Firefly is an advanced pose. You should be adept in practicing Kurmasana before attempting it, as it requires significant flexibility in the back and hamstrings. You should also be comfortable performing Bakasana and Chaturanga Dandasana to ensure you have enough arm strength and balance for Tittibhasana.

Which muscles are activated in Firefly Pose?

firefly pose anatomy: front body
Illustration: Chris Macivor
  • The serratus anterior, attached at the side of the rib cage and along the shoulder blade, draws the shoulder blades forward, stretching the trapezius and rhomboids.
  • The pectoralis major in the chest works with the anterior deltoids at the front of the shoulders, stabilizing the shoulders.
  • The infraspinatus and teres minor turn the humerus (upper arm bone) outward to increase shoulder stability.

anatomy of firefly pose: back body
Illustration: Chris Macivor
  • The triceps straighten the elbows. The quadriceps straighten the knees.
  • The adductor group squeezes the thighs into the upper arms, connecting the upper and lower body.
  • The psoas combines with the rectus abdominals along the trunk to bend the trunk and hips.
  • The gastrocnemius and soleus in the calf bend the ankles away from the shins.
  • The peronius longus and brevis muscles exert the ankle to open the soles of the feet.

Explore Firefly Pose:
» Everything you need to know about Firefly
» Watch and Learn: Lift off into Firefly with this easy-to-follow video
» Get creative with these Firefly variations

About the author: Ray Long, MD is a board certified orthopedic surgeon and the founder of Bandha Yoga. A graduate of The University of Michigan Medical School with post-graduate training at Cornell University, McGill University, The University of Montreal and Florida Orthopedic Institute. He has studied hatha yoga for over twenty years, training extensively with B.K.S. Iyengar and other leading yoga masters. Content is excerpted with permission from The Key Poses of Yoga and Anatomy for Arm Balances and Inversions.