The cold weather season that returns us inward is also my favorite time of year to check in on some of the fundamental poses we do in vinyasa yoga. No matter how advanced your yoga practice becomes, you never get away from doing the fundamentals. The same way a professional ballet dancer begins with plies and tendus or a professional orchestra warms up with scales. Across disciplines, it is only when the fundamentals are done extremely well that the most intricate and advanced creations are emerge. All that to say, stay close and curious about the fundamental postures you do in vinyasa yoga. They are the building blocks not only of an advanced practice, but to a sound and sustainable one. Utthita Trikonasana or Triangle pose is one such foundational pose that I had a major breakthrough with this year.
I've been practicing yoga for 13+ years and in that time I've done triangle pose at least a few hundred times. It's a familiar in my body after all these years, but this year I was encouraged to break my identity with the pose in order to learn a little bit more about it. WOW. Deconstructing triangle under the guidance of my teacher, Jason Crandell totally changed how I feel in the pose. The changes to the way I do Triangle pose were not big, but they were transformative. It's not that I was doing the pose wrong, but as with anything we study or practice - things evolve, we learn new information and discover more about the human form, that information is shared and we (hopefully) adapt. My perspective and understanding of what we are doing in Triangle pose has broadened not only on how I do the pose, but on how I teach it. For me, this is proof enough that the fundamentals never get old; they remain relevant and necessary.
Keep to the beginners mind.
I use to do Triangle pose with the emphasis on opening my top hip as much as I could making my hips as flat as possible. My bottom hand could only comfortably reach to my shin. Looking back I realize how crunched I felt in the pose because of the emphasis i put on the open position of my hips. Once I was told I could move my hips the pose opened up for me. I found length through both sides of my body, my bottom hand reached easily to the ground and I felt an amazing stretch in my psoai. If you are curious about Triangle pose and want to refine it, use my Pose Focus directions below.
<< Utthita Trikonasana >>
- Come into warrior II pose on the right side and straighten the front leg.
- Bring your left hand to your left hip and feel/allow it to turn in towards your front just a bit.
- ALIGNMENT UPDATE: There is no more "putting your body between two panes of glass."
- Hinge at your front hip and root your right hand to either your mat or a yoga block.
- Extend your left arm overhead.
- Upper body, torso spins open. Feel broad across your chest.
- Lengthen through your spine.
- Tailbone draws in just a little.
- Root through your feet.
- Distribute the pose throughout your body, standing up tall in your bones.
Before practicing Triangle pose try the Pose Support guide below. It's a simple, but informed way to move the body before a pose like Triangle. It emphasizes the hamstrings and side body.
<<Lengthen and Strengthen>>
- Reclined hand to big toe pose with a yoga strap.
- Two half vinyasas.
- Two low lunge vinyasas
- Two sun salutations to connect breath.
- Warrior II. Reverse warrior
- Pyramid pose
- Wide angle forward fold.
- After you practice Triangle pose, finish with legs up the wall. Savasana.