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Tag Archives: hamstrings

Peak Pose Sequence: Tittibhasana (Firefly Pose)

Tittibhasana (Firefly Pose) Yoga Sequence | Jason Crandell Vinyasa Yoga Method | JasonYoga.com

Before we get to the post, a quick, shameless plug for my upcoming trainings. You can join me live at my 500-Hour Yoga Teacher Training in San Francisco, London, or Hong Kong. I also have three separate online teacher trainings, focusing on arm balances & inversions, sequencing, or anatomy.

In my 500-hour Teacher-Training Programs I have my students compare Bakasana and Titthibhasana, or Firefly Pose, with the aim of learning how to create effective sequences for each of these postures.

When the trainees look at the two poses side-by-side, they see something they usually haven’t noticed before: Bakasana and Tittibhasana (Firefly Pose) are nearly the exact same pose. However, the one major difference between the two postures has significant sequencing implications. We’ll get to the yoga sequencing implications in a moment. But first, let’s look at the similarities between the two poses. Take a moment to compare Bakasana and Tittibhasana (Firefly Pose) below.

titthibasana va bakasana images | Jason Crandell Vinyasa Yoga Method
Bakasana and Titthibhasana share the following similarities:

1. Both poses flex the spine.

2. Both poses broaden the scapulae while strongly engaging the serratus anterior.

3. Both poses require strong core engagement, most significantly the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominus, and the illio-psoas.

4. The shoulder joint (or gleno-humeral joint for you fact-checkers out there) is at approximately 90 degrees of flexion in both poses.

5. Both poses strongly flex the hip joints and require the adductors (inner thigh muscles) to engage to prevent the legs from sliding down the arms.

In simple terms, the arms, shoulders, shoulder blades, spine, core, and hips are doing the same thing in Bakasana and Tittibhasana.

The one significant difference between the two poses is that the legs are bent in Bakasana and they’re straight in Tittibhasana. That’s all folks.

But—and this is a big BUT—straightening the legs has far-reaching implications that makes sequencing for Tittibhasana different than sequencing for Bakasana. When you straighten your knees in Tittibhasana (Firefly Pose) you:

1. Stretch your hamstrings. The hamstrings are contracting in Bakasana, but they’re stretching in Tittibhasana. This means your students need plenty of hamstring preparations in the sequence that you create.

2. Stretch and contract your adductor muscles. Tittibhasana requires you to stretch the adductors since the legs open at a slight angle when you straighten the knees in this pose. At the same time, the pose requires you to engage your adductors so that your legs don’t slide down your arms. To facilitate this, your sequencing needs to include both adductor opening and strengthening.

3. Engage your core (even more). If your hamstrings and adductors are the least bit tight, they will pull the weight of your body down as soon as you start straightening your legs. To counteract this downward pull, you have to fire up your core and create even greater lift than you do in Bakasana.

4. Engage your quads: Engaging your quads straightens your knees in Tittibhasana (Firefly Pose). Your quads also work with your core to flex your hips and support the weight of your pelvis. Your sequence and your verbal cueing should include postures that help your students tune into these muscles so they know how to engage them once it’s time for Tittibhasana.

Practice the 16-pose sequence above and notice how all of these layers are incorporated. Let me know how it goes in the comment section below!

See also Essential Sequence: Bakasana 

When you understand the nuances of postures like Bakasana and Tittibhasana, you can help demystify these poses for your students. Even more, you can create logical, effective sequences that keep your classes fresh and help your students do more than they ever thought they could.

Developing effective sequencing for all levels, including more advanced postures like these arm balances is one of the pillars of my Teacher Training Programs.  I offer my 500-hour Advanced Certification in San Francisco, London, and Hong Kong. If you want to deepen your practice, advance your teaching, and learn to create more effective sequencing, please join me!

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{illustrations by MCKIBILLO}

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Essential Sequence: Evening Wind Down

Before we get to the post, a quick, shameless plug for my upcoming trainings. You can join me live at my 500-Hour Yoga Teacher Training in San Francisco, London, or Hong Kong. I also have three separate online teacher trainings, focusing on arm balances & inversions, sequencing, or anatomy.

I’ve spent many an evening, after a long, hard day doing these poses in our living room while family life happens around me. That might mean that my daughter is jumping on me, or that there’s an occasional sports newscast on in the background. My evening wind down practice isn’t pristine (and yours doesn’t have to be either), but I still find it incredibly helpful to spend a few minutes on self-care in the evening. It provides a buffer zone that helps me relax so that when it’s time for sleep, my mind isn’t buzzing and my body isn’t calling out for more attention.

The evening sequence focuses on stretching the hips, hamstrings, and shoulders – all areas that accumulate tension in daily life. You’ll notice that there are no Sun Salutations at the beginning of the sequence and that’s intentional. The idea is to gently nurture yourself by stretching, breathing, and tuning your awareness to your body and breath. This act of focusing on exactly what you’re doing in your body and breath will help slow down the momentum of your mind so that when it’s time to let go and sleep, it’s easier to do that.

Take 5-10 breaths in each pose and do each side before moving to the next. Rest, savor, and repeat as often this evening-sequence you can!

Evening Yoga Wind Down Sequence | Jason Crandell Vinyasa Yoga Method

Want to practice this sequence at home? When you sign up for our newsletter, we’ll send you a FREE printer-friendly download for you to keep.

{illustrations by MCKIBILLO}

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Essential Sequence: Immune Booster

It’s holiday season and, for me, it’s “My child is in preschool and constantly has the sniffles season.” Whether you’re in hyper-drive, ticking your way through the holiday to-do list or you’re feeling too depleted to get off the couch and do yoga, the yoga sequence here is invaluable to have in your back pocket during the winter months. It’s not a high-intensity practice – it’s a healing, nurturing, immune boosting yoga practice. The poses encourage relaxation, reduce stress, and facilitate circulation throughout your whole body. These are the three most effective things that yoga asana can do to help support your immune system.

Yoga for the Immune System

You’ll start off on your back in a Supta Padangusthasana series, which requires very little exertion for those of you feeling fatigued. From there, you’ll gently open your hips, where stress and tension often pool. Then you’ll move into forward bends, which facilitate quiet, inward-drawn attention. You’ll finish with some rejuvenating yoga inversions that reverse blood flow and open the neck and shoulders. (Sometimes they even relieve sinus congestion, although too much inverting can make it worse, so listen to your body.)

As you move through the practice, give yourself permission to slow down and settle in to your body and breath. Try to be as gentle and patient with yourself as possible – especially if you have a cold when frustration and impatience can rear its head. These qualities—going slowly, nurturing yourself, taking your time—are your own natural antidotes to stress, depletion, and fatigue. I hope this sequence helps you tap into them and have a healthy winter season!

Yoga for Immune System Sequence | Jason Crandell Vinyasa Yoga Method

Want to practice this sequence at home? If you sign up for our newsletter, we’ll send you FREE print-friendly PDF download for you to keep.

{illustrations by MCKIBILLO}

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Essential Sequence: Open into Hanumanasana

Before we get to the post, a quick, shameless plug for my upcoming trainings. You can join me live at my 500-Hour Yoga Teacher Training in San Francisco, London, or Hong Kong. I also have three separate online teacher trainings, focusing on arm balances & inversions, sequencing, or anatomy.

Do you remember sliding easily into Hanumanasana (which you likely called “the splits”) when you were a kid? If you don’t, not to worry — I don’t either! It’s a pose that can still give me a challenge depending on the day, but over many years of practice, I’ve learned to find a safe, comfortable, and exhilarating place for my body to land.

When you first attempt Hanumanasana, you might focus a lot on your front leg and how tight it feels. You might think you need to spend exorbitant amounts of time stretching, stretching, stretching your hamstrings. But Hanumansana requires flexibility in both the front and back legs. The front leg requires hamstring suppleness, and the back leg requires openness in the hip flexors. When you can find a balance stretched between the front and back legs in Hanumanasana, you’ll find a balanced pose.

I always tell students that it doesn’t matter if your pelvis touches the floor in this pose — in fact, it doesn’t matter if your pelvis is miles away from the floor! Instead of jamming your body toward the floor (a recipe for back pain and other miseries), try to find a level pelvis, where you’re not tucking or overarching your lower back. Support yourself with props as you do this — you can stack blocks or a bolster or couch cushions underneath your pelvis for support. And don’t forget to use your leg muscles to support your endeavor — hug the inner thighs in toward each other and press your legs down into the floor to help you lift the pelvis and engage your hamstrings. It may seem counterintuitive to use your muscles while you’re stretching, but it will help keep your joints and the pose more supported.

Have fun and think of embodying the spirit of the pose’s namesake, the Hindu monkey God Hanuman as you lift your arms and breathe deeply in the pose.

To learn how to create essential sequences of your own, I encourage you to check out my e-course, The Art of Yoga Sequencing. And, as always, please sign up for my mailing list if you want to get a monthly reminder when new sequences go up. Have fun practicing!

Hanumanasana Yoga Sequence

Want to practice this sequence at home? When you sign up for our newsletter, we’ll send you FREE print-friendly PDF download for you to keep.

{illustrations by MCKIBILLO}

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