Exploring the three corners of the world

First question of teacher training (the yoga equivalent of those terrible corporate ice-breakers you have to deal with in management seminars and what-not) – what’s your favourite and least favourite yoga pose? Tricky question. So many to choose from — in the ‘least favourite’ category that is! 🙂

One of them was definitely Trikoṇāsana. I spent pretty nearly an hour on this some time ago in a one to one with my teacher trying to figure it out. The answer (which I think is a widely-applicable answer for me) emerged many months later: stop trying to figure it out and just feel into it instead, trust that you’ll find the shape, stop fighting it or holding back with a ‘not for me’ attitude. Of course Trikoṇāsana is for me! Why not?!

And I’ve had a few Trikoṇāsana moments lately that mean it’s definitely no longer in the loathed-pose category.

triangle errorsI’ve been trying to teach it. Not terribly successfully so far! Early day in teaching and I’m already experiencing the need to say things multiple different ways, even when you’re convinced the first way was pretty damn clear! Obviously it didn’t get through. So how to encourage students to find length before they crumple into supposed depth? Beyond this, how to allow students to be without always wanting to ‘fix’ them? How to judge by looking how bad an asana probably feels to them if they were being honest or aware? Or how to encourage them to explore their own self adjustments and modifications, really feeling what they need in each place? Ah, I begin to see the joys and challenges of teaching!

Then watching Hubby practising at home, trying not to get involved. Neither of us wants this. But then he caught me looking and ask what I saw. And I fell into teaching Trikoṇāsana again. What ‘worked’ I think was cuing to stretch the back fingers away in the opposite direction, before taking the front fingers/armpit/ribs forward to reach into the bend of the pose. At this he lit up —  face and body smiling! He said for the first time ever he understood why it was called Trikoṇāsana, that he could feel the angles, rather than a slightly miserable, unsupported, slumping curve. It took me back to TT where we had to draw lines of energy on outlines of poses. If I’d drawn on a photo of Hubby ‘before’ and ‘after’ the lines would have looked very different! I was so excited inside I would have high fived him, but instead I tried to cultivate an attitude of non-attachment to results… 🙂 After all, he might not find this place again any time soon!

Move within, but don't move the way fear makes you move.pngAnd what of my own Trikoṇāsana? Mine’s feeling nicer (as are many poses actually!) through gently persisting in shifting my attitude. Embracing each pose as an opportunity not as a test. And this week a subtle assist from my teacher, the kind I love — where I feel like we’re taking a pose together and I feel safe because I’m not venturing on my own into some scary new place. He was telling me to take care not to hyperextend the front knee and while my brain was figuring that out he leant in and said “and now just crease at the hip”. Just that, as though it was the most obvious and natural thing in the world, rather than the big, tensed-up deal that I habitually make it. So of course, I did was I was told!

And there I was in a fine-feeling Trikoṇāsana, a shape that was open enough for me to move about a bit; breathing, exploring, refining. It was a glorious exploration on the inside. And what I discovered there was boundless, reaching far beyond a mere three corners. Trikoṇāsana was a world in itself.

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image credit: http://up4yoga.com/trikonasana/trikonasana-mistake-1-markup/

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