Trikonasana or Triangle Pose is an iconic yoga posture. Even people who have never practiced yoga are familiar with this pose. The fact that it’s so familiar is a blessing and a curse. It’s easy to “check-out” in the pose, letting the mind wander. I’ll admit, I’ve made a grocery list or two while in Triangle. It’s also easy to have a certain expectation of what experience we are going to have in this posture. It’s like an old friend, you know and trust them, you like hanging out with them, but it can be easy just enjoy the comfort of their company and not make any effort to keep things new and interesting. But, it’s these old friends, these iconic postures that deserve our full attention and energy.
Trikonasana is a great pose of expansion and it really targets the hips and hamstrings, which are tight areas for many of us. Forget about the ground and keep the focus on an open and stacked pose. If you can feel a gentle pull in your hips and hamstrings, you’ve gone far enough. Remember that each day is a new practice, so go in without assumptions about how far you should be going in the pose. In fact, try to back off the pose just a bit and see if you can invite intensity with activity in the legs, core, and opening of the heart.
Try these variations to bring attention and energy to your triangle pose.
Option 1 – Trikonasana with Hand on Shin or Thigh. There’s a dirty rumor that your hand needs to touch the floor in triangle, but you can find the energy and expansion of the pose long before your hand gets to the ground. Stand with your chest and hips parallel to the long edge of your mat. Point your front foot forward, creating one line with the toes, knee and hip. The back foot can be parallel to the short edge of the mat. With long legs, reach forward and let your hand float down to your shin or thigh. Keep the gaze down at the toes to create stability. The legs stay active as you lengthen the sides of the body. The sensation in the hamstrings can be intense, so make sure you can maintain your breath.
Option 2 – Trikonasana with Hand on the Block. As the hips and hamstrings open, you can move deeper into the pose. Focusing on the structure of the legs will allow you to create opening while protecting the joints and ligaments in the legs. Pay attention to the front foot making sure to ground through the big toe ball mound. The front knee lifts toward the hip. The back foot grounds through all four corners, with special attention to the blade edge of the foot. The back leg lifts to straighten as the knee also pulls up toward the hip. There is a subtle scissoring of the legs. Arms extend creating one long line between the hands. The gaze can move up to the top hand.
Option 3 – Trikonasana with Binding Prep. If you feel open and stable through the legs, you can start to work on binding this pose. First, work on lessening the dependence on the block for support by lifting the side body away from the floor. Use the core to create lift and length in the torso. Then, drape the top hand behind the back, reach in the direction of the hip crease. Keep both shoulders integrated on the back, so that the neck can be long and free of strain.
Option 4 – Trikonasana with the Bind. Binding requires that the hamstrings, hips, and shoulders are open and willing. To find the bind, start from option 3. Soften the front knee and reach the bottom hand under the front leg. When the hands meet, begin to straighten the front leg as you lean back to stack the heart and shoulders over the front leg. You may need to work with a soft bend in the knee or a strap until you can return to the original triangle shape. In bound triangle, make sure you maintaining the openness, length and expansion of triangle.
About three years ago I had the opportunity to practice with Simon Park. He incorporated the Bound Triangle pose into one of his flows. His demonstration of the posture was breathtaking. It was a wonderful balance of grace, ease, strength, and mobility. I almost always think of his expression when I work towards this pose. It’s just lovely when a pose opens the door to something that is that beautiful.
Use these variations to bring some new attention and energy to your practice of Trikonasana this week. While you’re at it, bring a little extra attention and energy to a friend as well, maybe one you’ve taken for granted. Whatever you do, be sure to work from the heart and where you feel challenged, but also where you can breath and relax around the work. Follow this weekly challenge @suzannewrightyoga on Instagram or at Suzanne Wright Yoga on Facebook. If you post your pictures or share about your experience be sure to tag #PowerPose and @suzannewrightyoga.