Firefly pose has long been a challenge for me. I don’t have the loosy goosiest hamstrings and my hips certainly do not have a yoga-typical range of movement. All that means is that my titibasana looks a bit different than those with super bendy bodies. It's still a great hip and hamstring opener, a challenging arm balance and a good core strengthener.
Before I even think about attempting this pose, I like to open up my hips and hammies first. Links to photos of each pose are included, so you can follow along.
1. Low Lunge
Start by working the backward rotation of the hip. Try to sink as much as possible toward the ground. You might get the fingertips to the ground, palms, forearms or even forehead. You can wrap the arm around the ankle if you wish. Press firmly through the back heel and engage the back thigh. Make sure to scoop the lower belly in and up so. The actions of firming the thigh, scooping in the belly, and extending the leg will insure that you are not weighting on the hip joint. Then work to square the hips, think about moving the front sitting bone (i.e. the top of the femur) behind you. Sometimes I sing the “back that ass up” song to myself as a reminder. Not kidding! Hold for 10 breaths before switching sides
2. Prasarita Padotonasana
Wide legged forward bend. Work to press the feet equally into the ground here. The balls of the foot (inside and outside) and the heels should feel like they have equal weight. Suck the thighs up toward the groins and continue to lift your bum in the air as you simultaneously lengthen the lower back.
3. Modified compass
Another great one to get the hamstrings fired up and ready for firefly. Sit as tall as you can. Scoop the lower belly in and up. Hold two hands on the heel of the outstretched leg. Firm that thigh. And then push the foot into the hands as you continue to sit up taller and bring the hands toward the face.
4. Compass pose.
As someone with limited mobility in this pose, I prefer to hold my ankle rather than the outside of the foot. Use the leverage of the shoulder to further draw the leg backward. The hand on the lifted leg is for support and guidance only, Do not try to pull the leg or foot in any direction. This can be very dangerous and lead to a hamstring or knee injury. Work this pose with great care.
5. Sears photo pose.
I think everyone has a picture of themselves and their siblings in this one on a wall somewhere! Glue the legs to the ground. Spread out your yogi toes. Keep stretching the lower back long and keep the chest lifted. Continue to lengthen forward.
So now that your body is warmed up and ready — here we go! Moving toward titibasana:
Come into a forward bend with the feet a bit wider than hip distance. Bend the knees and try to snuggle the the legs onto the shoulders one and a time as if your putting on a back pack. Push out from the calves to do this and wiggle your way in.
Extend the arms behind you as far as they go. Place the heels of the hands on the ground.
Scooping the lower belly in and up and lifting up on the pelvic floor, turn the gaze forward. Round the shoulders slightly and push into the hands. Spread the toes and try to peel one leg at a time off the ground.
Lift the opposite leg and voila! To avoid the legs slipping down the body, inwardly rotate the inner groins toward the shoulders. Squeeze the groins in but outwardly rotate the feet. Stretch the legs up toward the sky and out in front as much as possible.
Go forth yogis! FireFLY!!!