When I first tried to practice firefly, I found myself not trusting the support of my hands and arms to hold myself stable, and I was fearful of falling backwards. Actually, this lack of internal trust and fear is present in many unfamiliar, new, and challenging asanas for me. And that’s OK! There’s a reason why we call it a yoga practice, not a yoga perfect. It’s just that – a practice. A day by day, continual effort. Each practice comes with new successes and new challenges, and props are a great tool to bridge the gap between challenges and successes.
So many asanas can become much more accessible and safe to practice when you grab a prop for assistance. Props can help to get your body into a safe alignment, make the asana more comfortable for your anatomy, and just add a little more oomf.
So, let’s get into it… how to use a chair for take off into firefly pose (tittibhasana)!
Step 1: To set up, grab a chair, two blocks, and your yoga mat. Set your chair at the back of the mat and two blocks in front of the chair. Sit of the very edge of the chair and place the blocks behind your heels. Press your hands into the blocks and start to snuggle your shoulders under your knees, working the hamstrings on top of your triceps – between the elbow and your shoulder.
Step 2: As you’re seated, you will start to stretch out your hamstrings – you’ll need that in a minute! Squeeze your knees into your arms, lift up your heels, and start to straighten out the arms.
Step 3: Scooching back in the chair, straighten the legs. To start out, maybe try straightening one leg at a time. Keep squeezing the legs into the arms, either flexing or pointing the feet to strongly engage the legs. Bring your drishti (your gaze) a couple feet ahead. This is a variation on tortoise pose.
Step 4: Shift your weight forward into your hands, lifting off of the chair with your feet strongly pointed forward. When you’re done, you can simply just shift your weight back, and land back on the chair. Keep playing around shifting forward and back, teetering and testing your balance.
In the yoga classroom, there’s often a hesitation to grab a block or two.. Let alone a chair! But you don’t have to be 100 years old to practice chair yoga. Using the chair can help to build your confidence. Eventually you will have more trust in your balance and strength, and you’ll be prepared to try this pose without the chair! (But it’s still a fun variation to use the chair.) So don’t let the misconception that props are crutches stop you from grabbing the support that could take your practice to the next level.