My usual yoga practice is just that: regular. With taste I will do the exact same practice every morning for months, changing things only a little over time. This allows me to see the subtle changes in my practice and in myself that occur as a result. But as much as I thrive on routine, I even occasionally crave something new. So I try to find time to play on the mat.
This sometimes means tackling a challenging yoga posture. More often than not, though, I find myself exploring an old favorite, a posture I’ve done so many times over the years that is deeply rooted in my mind and body. Lately, it’s been Trikonasana or Triangle Pose.
One of the ways I try to experience a posture from a new perspective is to literally change the way I get into it, whether I’m practicing at home or sequencing it in class for students. Changing my focus to Triangle Pose is often enough to recreate the posture as if we were experiencing it for the first time. Each transition to the triangle emphasizes it in different aspects, be it the position of the legs or the shoulders or the lateral body.
Moving to the same posture in a new way can help you free yourself from your physical and psychological patterns, this complicated discernment between routine and routine, which in turn encourages us to be more aware while we are in the posture. Even a posture that we might think we know quite intimately.
See also: 7 Tricks to Help You Transition
Warrior II in Triangle Pose
Why the transition works: Entering Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) from Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II Pose) is a fairly standard transition to vinyasa classes. But it’s still worth exploring. Often when we do something out of habit, we fall into a careless behavior and overlook the details of how we behave at all times.
First, your base. In Virabhadrasana II, your feet are about the same distance as in Trikonasana, which makes for an easy transition. But feel free to play with the position of your feet to adapt to what is happening to your knees and hips. If you experience discomfort in your knee or hind hip, change the angle of your hind foot. Turning it over minimizes tension in the knee and hip. You can also shorten the distance between your feet to create a more stable base (read: less risk of falling).
Then entering Trikonasana. This transition is often taught with a “hip blow,” in which the hind hip is pointed farther away from you and the front hand and arm slide forward. For some people, however, this creates too much stress on the sacroiliac joint (SI). An alternative way to get into Trikonasana is the “side hinge” – just stick to the front hip to let your front hand land wherever you want, whether it’s on the foot, the shin or a block.
How: From Virabhadrasana II, inhale and stretch the front leg. Adjust your back foot now to be a little closer to your front leg, if necessary. Exhale and make a side hinge on the front hip and let the front hand fall to the foot, cinnamon or a block located directly below the shoulder. Pull your upper arm away from you to stack your shoulders. Turn your face to the upper hand.
Reverse the position of the warrior to the position of the triangle
Why the transition works: The transition to Trikonasana from Viparita Virabhadrasana (Reverse Warrior Position) is similar to making the transition from Warrior II. But the “windmill” of the arms makes this transition smoother, as you would experience during the vinyasa, and brings more of an element of ease and grace than you experience in many transitions.
The key to making that transition is time. Your arms begin to move first, although you want to start stretching your front leg, without blocking or over-extending your knee, as you reach the hip hinge and before you fully enter Trikonasana. Think of it as a dance between the upper and lower body.
How: From Viparita Virabhadrasana, stretch your front leg as you begin to move the wind with your upper hand, shin, or a block directly under your shoulder. Extend your other hand toward the sky, and turn your chest toward the long side of the carpet and your face toward your upper hand.
Crescent position in triangle position
Why the transition works: Sometimes vinyasa teachers challenge students to make the transition from Trikonasana to Ardha Chandrasana (Crescent Position). The opposite transition can be just as difficult and feasible.
Focus on bringing your back leg to the mat as gently as possible; you will probably need to bend your front knee slightly for this to happen. Once you can land with relative ease and calm (instead of hitting your hind foot), work to touch the ground as close to Trikonasa as possible, slowly stretching your front leg, extending forward to above the front leg and holding the hand. at the foot, cinnamon or a block.
How: From the crescent position, look down at the foot of the standing leg. As you exhale, bend your knee slightly and begin to lower your back foot toward the carpet. Once the back foot has touched down, adjust its position so that it is slightly tilted outwards and stretch the front leg. Bring your front hand to your foot, cinnamon or a block located directly under your shoulder. Adjust the position of the upper hand, chest, and upper hip, which are already close to where they should be. If you experience a feeling of hesitation, you can bring your upper hand to your back hip as you begin the transition and then, once your feet are in place, reach your upper arm toward the ceiling.
Warrior I in the position of the triangle
Why the transition works: Starting with a Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I) allows you to focus on the movement of the spine and the opening of the chest which is typical of Trikonasana. This aspect is often overlooked in Triangle, as there is a tendency to crouch in the chest area to bring the lower hand closer to the carpet, a mistake as the point of the posture is to find expansion and length throughout the body. It’s about how the posture feels, not how it looks.
Warrior I starts with the back heel down and the foot tilted forward. You will have to go through a version of Warrior I in which there is a forward flexion at the hips with the stomach resting on the thigh. He will then bring his hands to either side of the front foot before turning
How: From Virabhadrasana I, exhale as you bend your hips forward and bring your stomach to your front thigh and your hands on either side of your front foot. Place your hand on the same side on top of your front foot. Place the back foot by Trikonasana; this could mean tilting it further to the side of the carpet. Inhale as you reach your upper hand and arm toward the ceiling, and open your chest toward the long side of the carpet, keeping your front knee bent. Exhale here. Inhale and stretch the front leg as it stretches along the lower ribs. You may have to slide your hand through the cinnamon to fully enter Trikonasana.
Side angle extended to triangle
Why the transition works: Switching to Trikonasana from Utthita Parsvakonasana (extended lateral angle) is a simple transition that helps you focus on extending and lengthening your lateral body because it occurs in both positions. This transition can be done whether you have your hand on the floor at a side angle, a block, or your forearm at your thigh. Keep your core engaged at all times to help support your torso while stretching your leg.
How to do it: If you have your hand or fingertips on the floor at an extended lateral angle, hold your hand in place as you begin to stretch your front leg and turn your toes slightly outward. You may need to adjust the position of the back foot to be closer to the front foot. Once the front leg is straight, raise your upper arm to the sky and look up.
If you have your forearm at your thigh at an extended lateral angle, move your hand where you usually place it in Trikonasana, either a block or cinnamon, before fully stretching your front leg. You may need to adjust the position of the back foot to be closer to the front foot. Once the front leg is straight, raise your upper arm to the sky and look up.
Put the pyramid at the position of the triangle
Why the transition works: From Parsvottanasana (Pyramid Position or Intense Lateral Stretching Posture) allows you to build Trikonasana from the ground up. As with Trikonasana, the front leg in Parsvottanasana is straight. However, your back foot is probably more inclined forward in Pyramid than in Trikonasa because it is a forward bend. So adjust the position of the back foot to look further out, to the long side of the carpet. You can also adjust the length of your posture, if necessary, before fully opening up to Trikonasa.
How: From the position of the pyramid, he carries his hand on the same side as his front leg on his foot, the shin, or a block located directly under his shoulder; rests the other hand on the side. Change your weight on the front foot and slide or put your back foot in a good position for Trikonasana. Extend your spine and flatten your upper back, which may require sliding your hand above your leg.
See also: Resting angle: Trikonasana
About our collaborator
Shawn Radcliffe is a yoga teacher and writer who explores the world through words and movement. His personal practice and teaching are influenced by the Viniyoga style of TKV Desikachar, and he continues to study with teachers of this lineage. He also takes advantage of the power of yoga and the flow of vinyasa from his early years of yoga in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Portland, Oregon, as well as Buddhist-based meditation practices. In college, he studied both science and writing, which led him to his current job as a science journalist. Shawn lives near the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario, Canada, where he teaches online and face-to-face yoga classes.