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Angle of Repose

You don't have to be Pythagoras to enjoy a great Triangle—and get the health benefits of this valuable standing pose.

By Julie Gudmestad

Whether you loved or loathed high school geometry, you probably never dreamed that learning about triangles might someday help you protect your back, improve your posture, breathe more deeply, and decrease the wear and tear on your hips.

But it's true: A refresher course on the geometry of triangles can help you understand how to do Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) more easily and reap the benefits from it. The actions in Triangle may seem subtle, but they can have profound consequences. When you're folded sideways into Triangle, you build strength in your torso muscles, which support the weight of your spine, rib cage, and head against the pull of gravity. As you train the muscles around your shoulders to keep your arms in place, you're not only teaching yourself not to slump but also opening your chest so your lungs can expand more fully. And the increased range of motion you eventually experience in your hips means you distribute wear inside the joints over more of their surface, rather than consistently stressing only a small part of the cartilage lining the joint.

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Reader Comments


My guru says that we connect the index finger and middle finger to the big toe to complete the internal energy circuit. We assume our personal expression of the pose with the body we have and breath ujayi breathing method. After 1000 daily repetitions the posture is perfect!


I had a similar experience in an Iyengar class. Years of yoga and I had never injured myself on my own or in a class, but my third Iyengar I injured myself trying to get the exact right alignment. I wish we had had some instruction about that possibility.

As for the article-- I love how this pose opens up my body and makes it feel so spacious inside!

PS Since starting regular yoga my joints feel more healthy, but they are also a lot more noisy. Is that normal?

cathy geier

I often fear iyengar teachers because my shoulder was cranked into position to complete the perfection of an isoceles triangle.
peoples' bodies are different. perfection is not as important as injury free.

That said, I don't see the 90 degree angle espoused in thi sarticle between the spine and the arm.

I don't usually like to use blocks, bu ton this pose I believe that they are very important touse to help create that angle and to keep from having a smaller than 90 degree agle between spine and hip, thus potentially crunching at lower spine and side.

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