FINDING FIRM FOUNDATION + FREEDOM IN TRIKONASANA [TRIANGLE POSE]
Triangle or trikonasana is one of yoga's most well known & practiced postures. Physically it helps to unravel the hamstrings & adductors (inner thigh). Symbolically the upward pointing triangle represents firm foundation, stability, exploration, creativity & transformation.
In this article we look at some of the key alignment tips that when mastered over time can help you find firm foundation & strength + freedom in the body & mind.
KEY ALIGNMENT TIPS FOR TRIKONASANA
FOOT PLACEMENT >>>
Place the feet in a generously wide stance (about as far apart as the wrists are wide - when outstretched).
Heel of front foot in line with the arch of the back foot - right foot (front foot) in line with your mat.
Back foot parallel to the back edge of your mat - or slightly turned in.
KEY ACTIONS >>>
Front leg rotates outward and upward - lift through the arch of the front foot - lift the knee cap up to create a sense of muscular tone & strength through the legs.
Back leg rotates inward - allowing the natural curve of the lower back.
Visualise the quadriceps drawing upward as though the muscles are hugging the leg bones to help create a sense of ‘drawing in’ or muscular tone in the legs without hyper-extending or locking the kneecap.
Even though there is a slight internal rotation of the back leg - balance this out by pressing into the little toe edge to form a stable base of support through the inner AND outer edges of the feet.
ARM PLACEMENT >>>
Right hand comes to the floor (or a block if it helps you to find more length through the spine).
Variations are to hold the big toe (ashtanga) / Use a block (beginners) / Or prop on fingertips for more buoyancy + space.
The top arm can settle on the hip (often good for beginners), or in the full expression of the pose lifts up and away from the midline of the body. Both arms extending outward - to create a feeling of space & organic expansion.
TORSO + PELVIS >>>
When I started practising around 15 years ago - I learnt this pose by visualising my body between two panes of glass. The problem with this approach is that it results in a lot of stress for the Sacro-Illiac - so ideally - visualise the natural curve of your lower back and honour that!
Imagine the pelvis like an anchor point - and from there press down through the legs toward the edges of the feet.
TIPS FOR BEGINNER STUDENTS >>>
If you’re a beginner and new to Trikonasana - you might wonder if you will ‘ever’ feel a sense of ease and freedom in the this posture. It might feel like your hamstrings are screaming at you - or that the floor feels too far away.
Taking a slightly longer stance (often by lengthening the stance you’ll feel less ‘choked up’).
Bending the front leg to help you bring the hand to the floor.
Then, once your hand is grounded to the floor or a block - straighten the front leg and think of an upward outward spiral.
If the top arm or shoulder feels tense - try bringing your top hand to your sacrum and focus on lifting and lengthening through the torso & relaxing the jaw. Draw the head of the arm back to create space and openess through the chest as you open the ribs outward and upward.
TIPS FOR EXPERIENCED STUDENTS >>>
So you’re feeling somewhat comfortable in trikonasana - time to refine…
Lifting the toes and spreading them to create muscular tone in the legs.
Dragging the heel of the front foot backwards without actually moving it to activate and strengthen the hamstrings (especially useful for those with attachment injuries).
To activate a slight jalandara bandha before turning the head to look up - creating length through the back of the neck.
Focus on expanding out from the pelvis down to the soles of the feet & out through to the fingertips & crown of the head as you visualise the dance between stability & freedom in the your body.
Don’t jam the pelvis forward here - honour the curve of your lower back.
CREATING STABILITY TO FIND FREEDOM >>>
Once you feel grounded & stable - focus on extending down through to the soles of the feet + expanding out through to the fingertips. When we think of the body expanding in this way - it offers a chance to connect with the divine, to experience the flow of prana or lifeforce through the body + invite spaciousness, creativity & joy.
WHAT TRIKONASANA CAN TEACH US ABOUT LIFE OFF THE YOGA MAT >>>
As a standing posture with a wide base + narrow top, trikonasana is a pose that represents strength and stability coupled with exploration, creativity & ascention to a higher connection to spirit.
By taking the time to set our foundation up in a methodical and stable way - using support if needed - we then give the body permission to be creative, expand + take risks.
In the pose - this might be the simple action of turning the eye gaze up toward the ceiling, or by playing with variations such as a heart opening bind behind the back, or to re-create this shape in other more playful ways in the practice.
Off the mat - when we feel strong in our foundation - taking the time to set good habit patterns - it gives us the freedom to play & break the rules knowing that at anytime we can return to this sense of stability + foundation.
Like the chef who starts with recipes to form a solid foundation before finding the freedom to experiment with flavours…
Like the child who starts with routine & structure at home in order to feel safe enough to find independence & create relationships with others….
Like the musician who must first spend thousands of hours training the ear, body & brain to learn chord progressions before graduating to improvising….
Like our relationships that benefit from boundaries in order for love, trust & expression to evolve…
The lesson of creating a stable foundation before finding freedom & expansion goes way beyond the mechanics of the physical body.