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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

Plane Geometry

Now that you've encouraged length in your hamstrings and adductors, come to a wall to apply it in Trikonasana. A wall is excellent for feedback: It can reinforce the actions in your legs and help keep your hips, torso, head, and feet all in one plane.

With your back to the wall, your feet about four feet apart, your right foot turned out, and your left foot turned in, stand so only your right buttock is touching the wall. If you force your left buttock to the wall, you'll be limited in your ability to tip your pelvis to the right, and it will be hard to keep your right knee properly aligned with the center of your foot.

Once you've set your basic stance, press out through your right leg into the four corners of the foot, as though you're trying to push the mat away from the floor. This will engage your quadriceps to support your right knee. Next, place the web of your right thumb at the crease where your thigh joins your pelvis. Inhale and, as you begin to exhale, push with your right hand so your right buttock slides back on the wall, away from your head. This will initiate the tip of your pelvis to the right and help you maximize the length of your hamstrings and adductors.

When you feel your hamstrings and adductors stretching, stop and put a block under your right hand. When the leg stretch becomes intense, that's a sign you've rotated the pelvis as far as you can. If you continue reaching, you force your spine to flex laterally, and you'll lose the straight line at the top of your triangle.

Instead of grasping for something your body isn't ready for, remind yourself that it takes years to develop the hamstring and adductor flexibility that allows you to put a hand on the floor without laterally bending the spine. Until you can do that, use a block and work regularly on stretching your hamstrings and adductors. Eventually, you'll work your way to the floor without sacrificing the length of your spine.

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Reader Comments

Bill

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!

Arugularose

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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