Arm Balance, Hip Opener


Forward Bend

Setup and Key Actions for Firefly Pose

Begin in a standing forward bend with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Bend your knees and start to work your shoulders under your knees. To do this, lift your right heel up, coming onto the ball of your right foot. You may also find it helps to bring your left hand to your right outer shin, resisting your shin in for extra stability as you work your shoulder under. With your right hand, lift the flesh of your right calf up (toward your knee) and then move your right thigh back (out to the right) to make space for your shoulder, and then bring your shoulder under your knee. Continue with these actions (calf up, thigh back, shoulder under) until your right shoulder is as “under” as it’s going to get. Keep your right hand on your right calf, pressing your shoulder back against your thigh, as you lower your right heel to the floor, and bring your left hand to your left calf. Lift your left heel off of the floor. Draw your left calf up, move your thigh back, and bring your shoulder under. Keep working these actions on the left side too until you’re as “under” as you can be. Then lower your left heel. Continue to press both shoulders back against your thighs, and place your hands flat on your mat, behind your heels (they might not come all the way to the floor just yet).

Then sit your hips back and bend your elbows (straight back, not out to the sides), bringing your hands flat to the floor if they weren’t already, and sitting your thighs on your upper arms without collapsing all of your weight onto them. Then walk your feet in toward each other. Reach back with your hips and forward with your chest, and see if you can lift your heels so you’re just balancing on the tips of your toes. Then press your hands into the floor like you’re pushing the floor away from you; your arms will start to straighten and your back will round. From here, you might cross your ankles, taking a little detour in bhujapidasana (“arm pressure pose”) before straightening your legs for firefly.

When your legs straighten, reach back through the pinky-toe sides of your feet and press out through the big-toe sides of your feet as you continue to reach back through your hips and to push the floor away from you.

Modifications for Firefly Pose

To make liftoff easier, place blocks behind your heels (at their lowest height) and place your hands on the blocks instead of the floor.