Reversing triangle? Don’t I mean ‘reverse triangle’? Or ‘revolved triangle’? Alas not! I’m just talking about plain old Trikoṇāsana. A staple in most of the classes I attend. It’s a pose I’ve been doing for as long as I’ve been practicing yoga. But now it suddenly feels all wrong. It started some months ago with feeling as though my arms are never quite right. Cues about extending the hands away from each other don’t fit with what I’m feeling. For me the top hand and lower hand feel completely disconnected from one another.
So eventually I asked my teacher for some help, and he gave me ideas of what I could try differently with an impromptu discussion and demo of various āsanas in the reception while a bunch of us looked on.
This made it clear to me that all his cues about leading into the pose with the ribcage first only took me so far, because as I windmilled my hands into position I completely lost the leading edge, and the upper arm took over. The upper hand (yes, that says it all! – pun alert!) moved so quickly to achieve a fancy vertical position that I completely forgot about staying connected to the lower arm. If I wanted to keep a straight line between the two arms and feel them working as one straight line, the upper hand would have to be at a different angle entirely. But that would make my triangle look messy…! So instead I’ve been left with it feeling messy. Now I’m done with the messy feelings and I want more harmonious feelings.
So in my next practice at home I played a bit in front of a mirror. Usually a no-no for me. I think practicing with a mirror is likely to make me lazy (seeing, not listening to, my body) as well as being a bit dangerous ego-wise. But on this occasion it was really instructive. I suddenly realised the issue was only partly about my arms and there was a lot more going on in the rest of the pose.
I think I’m not keeping enough weight through the back leg and (partly because of that?) the upper hip tends to drop down and forward, resulting in the common butt-sticking-out posture. And having realised that, I see I do the same thing — of course, they’re all structural related — in Vīrabhadrāsana 2 and Pārśvakoṇāsana. Darn! It turns out my Triangle is the tip of a messy iceberg…
Actually whilst I’m finding this frustrating and a bit disappointing, I’m also slightly amused, I have to say! In yoga it seems like as soon as you nail one thing, something else springs out. Everything is connected. But it’s actually quite exciting to realise I’ve got to the point where I can start to figure this stuff out myself, and that feels like a good challenge to have.
So there’s some work here, and I think I’m ready for that, and I have some idea about what it might involve. I need to understand experientially at least what the anatomical action is here and how to feel it, and I should probably figure out what is the simplest stretch or movement that will help me achieve the right action or whatever it is I can’t access (open hips? stronger glutes? perhaps quads need to work more?) and do some simple work outside of the fancy poses in class.
I know I need to back out a bit in these poses. Not a full u-turn, but some definite reversing is required. And I need to take my ego with me. These āsanas are going to look worse before they look better, but perhaps if I close my eyes, let go of the outward aesthetics, the inner harmony will reveal itself. And my hips and shoulder might feel happier. And my butt will stick out less! 🙂