Posture Clinic: triangle pose


by Barbora Simek

Triangle Pose

Tony Parrish in triangle pose. photo: sportsillustrated.com

Trikonasana

“Triangle pose this is the master posture of the series, perfect marriage between the heart and lungs,” says Bikram in many of his classes.

For many practitioners, triangle remains one of the most challenging poses in the Bikram series. The pose involves strength and flexibility and challenges a practitioners concentration with detailed movements that can make or break proper form in the pose.

What is happening in the pose…

Triangle is an intense hip opener that deeply strengthens the muscles of the legs. This greatly improves the stability of the body through strengthening and aligning the legs and hips. Because of this, the organs in the hip area (colon, kidneys, reproductive organs) benefit as do the associated chackras.

The twist through the upper body in combination with the deep opening of the arms helps to create length in the torso which helps provide adequate room for the organs in the chest to function properly. The combination of the twist and opening of the hips also helps to relieve back pain.

Finally, the deep challenge involved helps to build self-awareness, opening of the heart chackra helps to build authenticity and helps to connect you with the things you love.

Strengthens…

Quadriceps

Gluteus Maximus

Abdominal muscles

Muscles in the neck

Works all of the major muscle groups at the same time

Stretches…

Hip flexors

Spine and neck (through spinal twist)

Shoulder joints

Stimulates…

The respiratory system

The cardiovascular system

Reproductive organs

Nervous system

Kidneys

Thyroid

Adrenal Glands

“When you improve your triangle, you improve your life 360 degrees: sexually, mentally, physically, financially, emotionally.” — Bikram

Physical Benefits…

An excellent cardiovascular workout, with very little movement.

Increases stability.

Tones arms, abdomen and thighs.

Builds better overall body alignment through strengthening of the legs.

Intensely stretches each side of the body.

Lengthens the spine, opens the torso and broadens the shoulders which allows proper function of other physiological systems (cardiovascular, digestive etc.)

Reduces saddle bags.

Good for frozen shoulder.

Helps regulate hormone levels.

Helps to build awareness of hunger, helping with eating disorders.

Helps with: constipation, colitis, low blood pressure, appendicitis, spondylitis, menstrual disorders.

Helps to balance adrenal glands and the production of the stress hormone, cotisol.

Energetic Benefits…

Opens Heart chackra.

Strengthens base chackra.

Emotional Benefits…

Helps to ground the practitioner through turning attention and strengthening the legs.

Builds overall body awareness and  self-appreciation.

Builds self-awareness helping to liberate the practitioner from emotional patterns.

Builds concentration.

Relieves stress and anxiety.

“Triangle is the key posture to bring faith back to the spirit,” — Bikram

Posture Tips

Take a BIG step…

Beginners often take too small of a step in Triangle. It would seem that a smaller step would make this pose easier, but truly the 4-5 foot step ensures that the final pose is properly aligned. When proper alignment is reached, a natural dynamic tension will help to suspend the posture.

Allow the hips to open…

In the pose the hips do not face directly forward to the mirror, instead they are slightly angled. The hip of the straight leg should push slightly toward the mirror so that the hips can sink deeper into the pose.

To prevent slipping…

Bikram says you should be able to do this pose on a block of ice, however most of us slip in the beginning. It is important to engage the inner thigh muscles to maintain the pose. Also, try focusing on pushing the outer edge, from the pinky-toe to heel, of your foot into the floor.

About the elbow and touching the toes…

“If I touch my toes, my elbow is not against the knee,” I said to Craig Villani during teacher training. “Point at your elbow,” he replied. I pointed directly at the point part of the joint. Craig pointed out that the elbow is not just the point of the joint but rather the entire area surrounding the point as well. The moral is, that your fingers must touch, don’t worry about perfect elbow alignment.

“Even if the hips are not flexible, you must touch the toes with the hand,” -Bikram.

Head and neck alignment…

The instructions in the dialogue in this pose say to look up to the ceiling, but the movement is more of a turn to the side instead of a look back. Always remember the objective of turning the head is to touch the chin with the shoulder.

Do you have any questions about your triangle pose?

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14 Comments

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14 responses to “Posture Clinic: triangle pose

  1. If I take what I think would be the required step distance, then my extended leg knee gets tweaked. Any hints?

  2. Very informative. I am going to try to remember some of this at the 7 PM at BYSC

    • Hi Fran,

      Try two things:
      First, focus on engaging your stomach muscles.
      Second, make sure that the heel is firmly planted into the floor and that your inner thigh is engaged.

      Let me know if those tips help.

      Barb

  3. Miss Copsey

    We *just* did Triangle at Teacher Training today! How appropriate 🙂

  4. Penelope

    So excited to have your posts back, your posture clinics are awesome, and Triangle… What a great posture to kick back off with!
    Loving the comment that the elbow is “not just the point of the joint”. I often feel like my elbow is too far below my knee, but am always focusing on the point of the elbow. I will try this tonight being more aware of the surrounding area and see how I’m doing.
    Thanks for such a great resource to further my practice!

  5. i have only just begun to love triangle. i didn’t know that about fingertips to toes.

    sometimes i find my outer ankle in a lot of pain – but I guess i need to concentrate on the inner thigh and on pushing the foot into my mat rather than along my mat?

    thanks for this post.

  6. Awesome article, Barbora! Tons of good information and detail on this challenging posture…I am definitely going to share this one! Love the Bikram quotes you added as well. Thanks!

  7. Len

    Hi, I would like to ask for your thoughts on the following: 1) Which is more important, thigh parallel (with shin perpendicular) to the floor or both arms in a straight line from the front? If I get my legs/hips in proper alignment, I’m unable to get my arms in a straight line (with one arm at 12 o’clock and the other at 6 ‘clock). And if I focus on keeping my arms in a straight line, my knees moves beyond my toes (my thighs still parallel but my shins are no longer perpendicular to the floor). 2) I have students with knee/leg/hip problems/injuries and are unable to take a big step to get their hips down low enough and thighs parallel to the floor (for now..). If they aim to touch their toes, they have to move their body so low and end up straining their back. I have instructed them to just go down to the point where they can hold it steady and to make sure their knees are still stacked on top their heel (even though thighs are no longer parallel to the floor) and just move their arms from there. Some will just have their forearms or wrists in front of their knee (not touching their toes) but they have their arms in a straight line and proper knee alignment. Would appreciate your thoughts, thank you.

    • Hi Len,

      1) Bikram has adressed your issue in lectures that I have been at. As long as the rest of your body is in alignment then the knee can move beyond the ankle. If you look at the cover of the original Bikram Yoga book you’ll be able to see that Bikram and Rajishree’s knees both do this. Still, confirm it with a senior teacher.

      2) I agree with your correction for your students. I often think of the dialogue as a recipe that you must follow step by step. Not only are the directions important, but the order of the directions is important. Whatever comes first in the dialogue, should be most important. So if you follow that the step and sitting into the posture should be worked on first before touching the toes. I would also make sure that they do have proper hip alignment and that everything is aligned to achieve maximum flexibility.

      Barb

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