This pose is one of the classics and one of my favorite yoga postures. It is one of the first postures that led me to practice Asana in the "yoga way", meaning go beyond surface level experience and taste the sweet nectar of union between breath, body and mind.
Here are some tips on how to approach a yoga standing posture:
👉 Standing poses start from the ground, they ask us to create a mutual relationship with the earth. When we apply an intelligent downward moving force the earth is usually kind enough to send some resistance back our way and allow for the state of stability to arise.
👉 In a standing pose our center of gravity is usually high up away from the ground which requires a bit more effort to hold steady. Many times we feel muscles in our lower body contracting in order for us to be able to hold the position or transition in and out of it.
Short self-reflective quiz: Where exactly is the center of gravity of your body?
👉 Usually a standing pose calls for either straight legs (one or two) or bent ones. If we straighten our leg we want to make sure that we do it in a way that maintains an active connection to the ground and allows for information to go up the legs and towards the upper body.
Another short self-reflective quiz: What the hell does that mean practically speaking??
Triangle pose is really about creating straight lines and deliberate angles between the different limbs. It is also about making choices regarding spiraling, elongating, and creating the right balance between effort and ease. Many yoga postures share the same characteristics as Trikonasana, but this one is a great starting point for exploration of these patterns.
There are a few things that are happening simultaneously. We press our feet against the yoga mat in a way that uses the full potential of the foot to ground the entire body (more on that another time). We try to straighten our legs without losing firmness at the front of the thighs. We may feel some stretching sensations in the back of one or two of the thighs or shins. We turn the front of the upper body slightly upwards which may require some spiraling along the spine. We reach the arms in a way that creates spaciousness around the shoulders.
A few things you might want to consider when holding Trikonasana:
⭐ Positioning of the feet: The front foot is pointing straight ahead, the back foot is turned out in an angle. Both can (and in many cases should) be modified! The position of the feet should not create any discomfort in the knees or hip and should allow the body to feel stable and not wobbly.
⭐ Positioning of the hip/pelvis: It should be arranged in a way that doesn't create pressure in the lower back. Some people can turn it fully sideways (same direction as the chest) and stack one side of the hip above the other, others may feel restriction somewhere very often due to tightness at the back of the front leg. Do what feels best for your own body!
⭐ Positioning of the spine: Some of us tend to over arch our lower back, meaning we do a mild backbend. If that is the case it can be very useful to balance it by sending the tailbone backwards and create some feeling of space in the lower back. This will definitely keep the pose more pleasant in the long run.
⭐ Positioning of the arms: The classic way is extending both arms with a long reach from the shoulder girdle onwards. One arm reaching down, preferably giving support to the upper body pressing against the shin, the foot or the floor. The other arm reaching up with the intention of stacking the shoulders one on top of the other. If we have some shoulder issue it can be useful to rest the upper arm on the waste or lower back.
⭐ Positioning of the neck: The way this pose was taught for decades was to turn the gaze towards the arm reaching upwards, but for many people this may cause tension in the neck. Feel free to turn your head in any direction that works for you, just try to keep it steady and not moving around.
Here's a little secret - it doesn't really matter where the head is turning to and has very little affect on the essence of the pose.
Important side note!
Try and look for the right amount of effort needed to maintain the integrity of Trikonasana, and then try to create lightness and ease within that. Try to arrive at a place where you can easily focus on the breath, maintain a slow steady movement of air through the nose, perhaps even using the Ujjayi technique. Keep your awareness on the breath and allow for any sensation or experience in your body to arise naturally, take a back seat and witness what comes. This pose, as well as all other yoga poses, should eventually feel very pleasant and spacious. There may be some challenge and effort required in the early stages of our yoga journey but we want to make sure we are moving towards ease. If we are not feeling progress in that direction we may consider consulting with an experienced yoga teacher.
You can embark on further investigation of this pose and more in weekly classes, sign up here!
Enjoy Trikonasana :)