Life is stressful, and breathing through it can be difficult. Stress causes one to round the shoulders, compress the chest, tighten different muscles, and hyperventilate. All of these problems can be alleviated through the practice of Trikonasana>, or Triangle Pose. This is an essential yoga posture practiced in many yoga classes; itís said that one can work every muscle in the body by following a Sun Salutation with this pose. For these reasons, itís important to break the pose down and make sure that oneís alignment and movement in and out of the pose are done correctly.
When setting up for Trikonasana, one steps the feet about three feet apart while standing on a yoga mat. The front foot is turned so that the toes are pointing forward; the back foot is turned to a forty-five degree angle. Itís helpful to imagine the feet as straddling a tightrope which creates a line drawn from the heel of the front foot that bisects the back instep. The hips and upper body thus face the side of the mat.
Lift the arms up perpendicularly and plug the shoulders into their sockets. Without losing the connection of the shoulders, spread the arms out so that they are parallel to the legs. Kick the back hip out and bend the waist so that the upper part of the body tilts forward. When in position, the bottom hand will touch the thigh, shin, or foot of the front leg; the top hand will point up to the ceiling. The body will form five lines of energy; one between each leg and the sacrum, one between each arm and the chest, and a perpendicular line from the sacrum to the top of the head connecting the limbs.
When in the asana, take a moment to inhale and exhale and then check alignment. Imagine that there are two panes of glass pressing into the body, and try to orient all muscles into that one interim plane. Itís very common for the top shoulder to fall forward, and one usually will need to work on pulling it up and back so that it is in line with the rest of the torso. Legs and arms should be as straight as possible without locking out the joints; however, if hyper-extension is an issue, consider a small micro-bend in the knees or elbows.
This position is generally held on one side of the body for a period of time. When practicing on oneís own, try taking five breaths in the posture before moving. To come out of the pose, lift the torso up so that the arms become once again parallel to the floor. Turn the front foot so that it becomes the back foot, point the new front foot towards the other edge of the mat, and repeat the asana on the other side of the body.
Trikonasana is part of a group of postures known as the Ďopen hip posesí. This nomenclature distinguishes them from standing poses which are done with the hips pointing to the front of the mat, or Ďclosedí.
Virabhadrasana, or Warrior II, and Utthita Parsvakonasana or Extended Side Angle Pose, are other open hip postures. In a studio class, itís very common for them to be grouped together in a vinyasa or sequence, with one flowing into the next. To try this out, move from Warrior II to a Reverse Warrior, then back to Warrior II before moving to an Extended Side Angle. From here, go back to Warrior II again before moving into Triangle. Come out of Triangle and back into Warrior II before changing the position of the feet and performing these asanas on the other side of the body.
Triangle Pose stretches the intercostal muscles of the chest, which is very useful for those with breathing problems. It also strengthens both the arms and legs. In addition, itís a great pose for developing balance, as it moves the body in several different directions; it makes a good foundation for more advanced balance poses. Plus, it feels wonderful after a long, stressful day. Enjoy!