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Refining Triangle Pose: The 3 Primary Triangles in Trikonasana
You could explore Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) for a lifetime and still continue to feel new sensations. Each time you practice, you can create profound awareness in both your body and breath. An aspect of Triangle Pose that I enjoy playing with is the concept of three or working with the three triangles of Trikonasana.
In this pose, you can find many triangles reflecting the pose’s name. By placing an acute awareness on each triangle within the pose, your perspective and subsequent sensations that you experience in the pose change.
The Trikonasana steps are as follows:
1. Stand on a nonskid mat and step your feet apart 3 to 4 feet, with the inner edges of the feet parallel to each other.
2. Turn your right foot in slightly and turn your left foot out 90 degrees towards the front of your mat. Firm both legs.
3. Roll your left thigh outward to the left in external rotation so that the center of your kneecap faces your second or third toe.
4. Reach your arms out to the sides over their respective legs.
5. Maintain the rotation of the left thigh at the hip as you reach your left arm and side body forward past your left thigh.
6. Lower your left hand down onto your shin or to a block and lift your right arm up overhead.
7. Keep your upper body in Tadasana (Mountain Pose).
The Base of the Triangle
The first and most fundamental triangle that we work with is the triangle we make with our legs and the Earth. The Earth is the base layer of the triangle. The feet create the angles between the base and the sides of the triangle. Your legs form the sides of the triangle and these sides meet at the pelvic floor, the muscles at the base of the pelvis. This triangle represents stability, strength and a solid foundation in which to build upon. Use these actions to identify this triangle.
1. Press your feet firmly into the floor.
2. Hug the inner legs in toward each other.
3. Imagine gathering the ground between your feet, the base of the triangle, and lift it up toward your pelvic floor.
4. Feel how the legs and floor create a triangle that meets at the summit of your pelvic floor.
The muscular action pulls the feet and inner thighs together without successfully bringing the legs together. As you practice and focus on the base triangle, you may feel more steady and grounded in your pose.
Revitalizing the Organs
The next triangle forms at the precipice of the base triangle, forming an inverted triangle. From the pelvic floor, the two sides of the second triangle are formed by the sides of the torso, spreading along the inner arms all the way to the third fingers. The third side of the triangle is formed by connecting the third fingers across the chest and heart.
1. Continue to gather all of the energy that you have pulled up from the base triangle.
2. Disseminate that energy throughout all of your vital organs as you feel the sides of your torso lengthening up toward your underarms.
3. Spread your energy outward to your third fingers reaching them away from each other.
4. Instead of letting this energy out through the fingertips, contain it by gently drawing the shoulder blades toward the spine so that there is some tone in the upper back. This way your chest stays bright and open, and you don't overly expand by taking the top arm behind you and generating a huge backbend.
The triangle stays sharp and contained. The heart reabsorbs the energy drawn in and up from the Earth via your feet. You feel uplifted, bright and strong within yourself without leaking out any energy when you focus on this particular triangle.
Sharpening the Mind
By aligning your body and reorganizing the intentional movement of your energy, you intricately focus the mind. The third triangle sends energy looming across your broad chest and aims it directly towards the crown of your head. This triangle is formed by the base of the chest and angles at the third fingers with imaginary beams of energy reaching diagonally from the third fingers to meet at the top of the head.
If you look closely, you will see that the triangle of revitalizing the organs mirrors that of the sharpening of the mind. The pinnacle point of the pelvic floor reflects the pinnacle point of the crown of the head. There is a tendency for the head to become dull as the weight of the head succumbs to gravity. Try these tips to explore this top triangle of Trikonasana.
1. Imagine two even lines reaching from your third fingers and culminating at the crown of your head.
2. Once you call this image to mind, recall its mirrored reflection of the pelvis.
3. Move these two points equidistantly away from each other to maintain Tadasana in your spine.
4. Focus on moving the crown of the head away from the tailbone for five breaths, keeping your mind present with the sensations in your body.
Concentrating on this triangle continues the sensation of feeling uplifted and weightless while also adding mental focus and total body awareness.
These are the primary triangles in Trikonasana pose, but may not be the only triangles that you will experience. Ask yourself where else can you locate a triangle; from the top of your head outward into the universe? Maybe something smaller like the triangle of your nose.
The benefits of Trikonasana, and experiencing these three-sided shapes, can completely change the way you experience this pose. In the bigger picture, when you find your alignment do you move into another pose? Or do you take the time to then to experience and live in the pose? It’s in this precise attention to detail, while fully embodying the pose, that we are able to focus our mind and transcend the layers that obscure our true Self.
Would you like more asana practice tips? Here's another article from writer, Allison Schleck - 6 Keys to Healthy Alignment in Ustrasana.