Do you put play into your practice?
It is easy to associate play with childlike behavior, avoiding it as we become adults. But play isn’t just for kids. It also has a valuable function throughout our adult lives, providing us with the opportunity to explore, test our boundaries, and ultimately develop new skills. When you apply play to yoga, you are able to bring light-heartedness into your practice, allowing for self-exploration, building physical strength, testing mental limits and even having a bit of fun.
Kurmasana and Tittibhasana
This tortoise (kurmasana) to firefly (tittibhasana) transition requires patience and play. Both poses are challenging but in different ways. In kurmasasana, your senses move inward like a tortoise in its shell as you open the hips and press the upper body toward the floor. In tittibhasana, you fly like a firefly, opening the hip as you play with balancing on your hands. While kurmasana grounds, tittibhasana lifts.
Warm-up and Explore
Before you begin, warm up with 5- 10 sun salutations. Take your time as you move through each movement, exploring not just how the pose feels but also on the transition. This mental shift will help prepare you to play with the tortoise-firefly pose transition.
Find a Fold
Start in forward fold. Place the hands underneath the feet to help stretch the wrists and pull the upper body downward.
Come to garland pose or malasana. Play with the option to roll the wrists to prepare them for the balance. Begin to move the shoulders under the thighs, staying aware of what feels right for your body.
Turn Toward Tortoise
From garland pose, lift the sit bones up and place the shoulders under the armpits. Begin to lower the upper body down. Stretch the hands out to the side, spreading the fingers. Play with relaxing the entire torso, allowing the legs to rest on the arms. Keep a slight bend in the knees and start to explore your tortoise pose.
Float into Firefly
Slowly begin to exit tortoise by activating through each of the fingers, pressing into the floor. Begin to bend the knees, inching the heels up until you sit bones are on the ground. Once your sit bones are on the ground, begin to move your shoulders underneath the thighs. Bring the hands in line with the inner hips with fingers facing forward. Activate through the fingers and start to lift. Play with you balance by lifting on leg, then the other.
Adjust the shoulders under the armpits and activate the lower core. Extend the legs and feet forward, rising up to balance on the upper arms. Explore you balance by gazing forward and lift through the feet.
To exit, slowly lower the feet down and bring the sit bones back to the floor and release the arms. Bring the knees toward your chest as you rest in a seated apansana pose.
Putting Play into Practice to Step out of Your Comfort Zone
Tortoise pose and Firefly poses are challenging for the mind and body. Even if the poses aren’t accessible for you today, take some time to play and notice where you are today. After all, playing helps you step outside of your comfort zone and explore.
Get on the mat and don’t just practice, but play!