|Tittibhasana: The Firefly Pose
by Barbara Benagh
Leap of Faith
Now that you have warmed up your hips and back, you are ready to try to perch yourself on top of your arms. Like riding a bicycle (or any other activity that relies more on feeling equilibrium than on technique), balancing on your arms requires you to be totally present in your body. Part of your learning process must be a willingness to risk the tumbles that are nearly inevitable when practicing this asana.
When I practice poses in which I'm a little shaky, I remember a young friend of mine named Dylan. During one visit when he was six years old, Dylan was eager to show me that he had learned to do a flip. Over and over he ran down the lawn and jumped into the air, only to land in a heap on the grass. Each time he hopped up to try again. His faith was so enormous that he clearly did not consider his spills to be failures. Though he never turned a flip that day, I have no doubt that he eventually succeeded. As adults living in a particularly goal-oriented society, we often forget the enthusiasm of childhood and the sheer joy of movement. Don't be discouraged if you feel you do not yet possess the skills necessary to do Tittibasana. Instead, approach this arm balance with the spirit of a child.
First, you must establish a foundation position for your arms. Begin by standing in Tadasana with your feet a few inches wider than hip width. Lean over, bend your knees, and reach your right arm inside your right leg. Hold your calf as you place your right shoulder (or upper arm, if that's all you can manage) under the back of your knee. Continue to hold your right calf to maintain the position of your right arm as you repeat the procedure on your left side. As you practiced in Child's Pose, maintain awareness in your lower back by focusing on your breath and using it to mindfully relax any areas that are tight. As you practiced in Upavistha Konasana, generate internal support within your pelvis by drawing your pubic and tail bones toward each other.
Once you lock both upper arms in place, press them against your legs to hold their position. Place your hands, fingers facing forward, on the floor a few inches behind your heels, shoulder-width apart or slightly wider.
A safety note is necessary here. In Tittibhasana, your palms must be fully on the floor. This position requires that your wrists bend at a fairly acute angle. If you're currently suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome or other repetitive stress injury to the arms, I would advise against going further. But if your problem is simply inflexibility, this pose can be quite therapeutic. Until you can tolerate the full wrist action, feel free to lessen the angle by placing the edge of a folded blanket or a wedge under the heel of your palm. Another key to avoiding too much pressure on your wrists is to be active in our hands. Spread your fingers wide and vigorously press the balls of your fingers and your fingers themselves into the floor.
• Strengthens upper body, arms, and wrists
• Tones abdominal organs and muscles
• Improves concentration and coordination
• Carpal tunnel syndrome and similar repetitive stress injuries
• Acute sacro-lumbar strain
© 2001 Barbara Benagh