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Monthly Feature Pose: Trikonasana | Triangle

This month, we’re featuring Trikonasana – or Triangle pose. Trikonasana, like most yoga poses, combines a variety of elements into one, lovely back and core strengthener. Because it’s a fairly gentle twist, it maintains back flexibility and works your full spine. The twisting motion also works as a massage to your internal organs, helping them rid toxins from your body.

It also brings connection with the lower half of your body. Though you stand on your legs every day, it’s easy to neglect their power and grace. Incorporating Trikonasana into your yoga practice will build strength and steadiness into your legs and feet.

Because Trikonasana pulls your body in every direction, it cultivates balance and evenness in your body. It magnificently expands and creates space in your torso, arms, and legs.

Trust me: before you know it, you’ll come to crave this pose, falling into it in any and all yoga practices!

Benefits of Trikonasana

It opens just about everything – hips, groins, hamstrings, shoulders, chest, and spine – making it an integral part to any yoga flow.

It stimulates abdominals in a friendlier way than many core exercises.

It improves alignment and stability, as you gradually are able to open your body into the full extension.

It stretches and strengthens your thighs, knees, and ankles.

It relieves backaches!

The Process

A steady triangle begins with a comfortable stride. Starting from warrior 2, turn your front toes so they face the top of your mat.

Bring your arms to a T position and extend strongly through all 10 fingertips. They should feel like they’re growing stronger and more vibrant with each breath.

Next, pop your back hip toward the back of your mat, then inhale deeply as you reach forward with your front hand. Make sure to keep your legs and hips steady as you reach!

Exhale as you slowly fold at your hip crease, stretching your front hand to your shin or a block. Be careful to avoid dumping all of your weight into this hand. Your abs and legs should be able to support you entirely.

Finally, lift your back arm to the sky, directly above your other shoulder. Your body should feel as if it could fit in the narrow space between two panes of glass, which means you’re going to need to rotate your upper shoulder and heart to the sky. Take a full round of breath here, enjoying the expansion throughout your chest, lungs, and heart.

Cautions

A couple things to watch out for when practicing trikonasana. If you have low blood pressure, take your time coming out of this pose. If you have high blood pressure, gaze downward, resting your top hand on your hip. Got a neck problem? It’s totally okay to keep your gaze forward, rather than twisting up toward the ceiling.

Modifications

Sometimes, a pose just isn’t your jam. If your body still needs time to get comfortable with trikonasana, use a block (on any height) to support your lower hand. This actually removes pressure from your front leg, hips, and shoulders. Wave us over if you’ve never felt confident in this pose; we’d love to help you!

Variations

If you’re looking to take this pose even further, try extending your top arm over your ear, in line with your side body and pointing toward the front of your mat. Lift your bottom arm up to meet it, as if you were holding a large beach ball. This is one of the best ways to check that you’re truly using your leg and ab muscles, rather than relying on your lower arm to support you.

Consider this complex and challenging pose an ongoing experiment. Explore different strides, play around with the rotation in your pelvis, and let your breath guide you into the pose. Always maintain a sense of playfulness and curiosity!

Get Your Yoga On – Before You Even Get Out of Bed

We’ve all been there…it’s hard to wake up, it’s hard to get moving and you want to crawl back under the covers to sleep for 5 more minutes! Wouldn’t it be nice to give ourselves a little buffer between sleep and the rest of our day? How do we get our day going, while being kind to our bodies? Yoga – of course!

Try to incorporate the following poses into your morning – before you even get out of bed.

Savasana (Corpse Pose): Before you even start moving around, lay still and aware. Notice your breath moving in and out of your body. Notice your rib cage expanding with each inhale. Notice the rise and fall of your belly with each breath. Take 20 breaths here to just be, and to see how everything is feeling.

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose): Let the soles of your feet touch as your knees splay outward, gently opening through the front of your hips. Place your left hand on your heart, and your right hand on your belly. Feel the beating of your heart, and the rise and fall of your chest and belly for 20 steady breaths.

Apanasana (Reclined Knee to Chest Pose): Draw your right knee up and toward your chest. Use your hands (on your knee or shin) to pull the knee in closer to your body. Take 10 steady breaths here. Switch legs and repeat the 10 breaths. Draw both knees into the chest for 10 more breaths.

Jathara Parivartanasana (Master Revolved Abdomen Pose): With the knees raised to your chest, stretch your arms out wide letting both shoulder blades relax on your back. As you exhale, drop the knees toward your right elbow (keeping the shoulder blades flat and knees above hip level). Take 10 breaths. On an inhale, draw the knees back to center, and as you exhale, release the knees toward your left elbow. 10 more breaths. Inhale your knees back to center. Place your hands behind your thighs and gently rock yourself up to a seat (Sukasana – Easy Pose).

Parsva Sukasana (Easy Pose with Side Bend): Inhale both arms overhead, as you exhale bring the right hand down outside your right leg and bend sideways toward your right hand. Left arm stays overhead and reaches toward the right side of your room. Stay and breath 10 full breaths, lengthening your left side body, without crunching up on your right side – think long spine). Inhale, lifting you back to center, both arms overhead. Exhale, bring the left hand down outside the left leg and side bend to the left. 10 strong steady breaths. Next inhale draws you back up tall with arms stretched overhead. Take a few more breaths here stretching up nice and tall.

Now get out of bed! Gently of course.

Use this peaceful transition from sleep to movement, and from sitting to standing, to give your body a more gentle way to wake up and start your day with some self-care and joy!

Namaste.

Brandie Patterson, RYT

Mastering Chaturanga

Ever heard your yoga teacher call out “chaturanga” and wonder if you’re doing it correctly? We feel you. Chaturanga Dandasana – or four-limbed staff pose – is the one yoga pose yogis love to hate. Most of us do it incorrectly or half-heartedly for years before finding the light!

Because this is such a physically and emotionally challenging pose, there’s a tendency to rush through it to get it over with. But a lack of attention is perhaps the biggest problem. While chaturanga can be a great way to tone your arms and core, your alignment needs to be spot on. Otherwise, you’ll risk shoulder or back injury.

The Benefits of Chaturanga:

Why do we put ourselves through this tough pose? There are several reasons why yoga instructors sprinkle chaturanga dandasana throughout their classes. Here are some of my favorite reasons for using chaturanga to transition between your yoga sequences.

  1. It makes your wrists stronger and more flexible.
  2. It builds muscles in your back, shoulders, and arms.
  3. It tones and stretches your core muscles.
  4. Add all of this together and it’s a great preparatory pose for arm balances and inversions

The upper-body and lower-belly strength you acquire by practicing chaturanga translates wonderfully into the power and core consciousness you need for arm balances like crow pose and side plank.

Where Most of Us Go Wrong:

It’s challenging to know when you are doing your chaturanga correctly. And since it’s a pose of repetition, it can lead to injury when performed incorrectly over and over again. Here are a couple ways even the best of us mess up our chaturangas sometimes.

  • Our hands are too close to our shoulders, causing our elbows to bend further than 90 degrees.
  • Our bodies either collapse to the ground with a saggy back or we stick our butt out toward the ceiling putting too much pressure on our shoulders.
  • Our elbows fall outward instead of hugging our core.
  • We lazily move through chaturanga, barely bending at the elbow before quickly rushing into upward dog.

How to Make Chaturanga More Accessible:

One option is to practice the pose with your knees on the floor – there’s no shame in this, friends! Closely monitor your elbow alignment. Next, recognize how deep you go as you lower yourself toward the floor, catching yourself before you begin to sag. Finally, share the strength of the pose between your upper and lower body so that your legs can ease the burden.

Still Confused?

Whether you are a seasoned yogi or a novice, each of us can benefit from stripping this pose down to its basics once in a while. So, whether you know you’re doing chaturanga wrong or you’re so darn comfortable in it that you’re starting to think you could use an extra challenge, we’ve got you! Join us at Yoga Fever for our next Chaturanga Clinic on March 18th from 1-2:15pm to learn the proper alignment, explore preparatory poses, and even how to take it to the next level by hopping or floating back into it! Sign up now – your shoulders will thank you!