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Twist Yoga Poses

Revolved Triangle Pose

A counterpose to Trikonasana and preparation for seated forward bends and twists, this pose is key to a skilled practice.

Revolved Triangle Basics:

Sanskrit: Parivrtta Trikonasana (par-ee-vrit-tah trik-cone-AHS-anna)

Pose type: Twist

Targets: Full body

Why We Love It:When I was in yoga teacher training, each weekend we would workshop various poses, and our trainer would call on one of us to demonstrate,” says Yoga Journal senior editor Renee Schettler. “One day I was called to demo Revolved Triangle Pose. We hadn’t studied it yet, and though I had been practicing yoga for years, I hadn’t committed many Sanskrit names to memory. I had no idea what to do. I hesitated, uncertain, and then took a long breath. Then, without thinking, I settled into the posture.

Where that knowing came from, I have no explanation I think that sums up my experience with yoga at large and this posture in particular. The less I try to think my way through the posture and the more I can feel my way through it, the easier and more aligned things turn out.That’s not to say Revolved Triangle is easy. It’s not! And that’s what I appreciate about it. The challenge is to come into the posture seeking to have strong extended legs, straight back, hips not swaying off to one side, and back not arching, yet without getting so lost in your thoughts that you forget what the pose could do for you should you let yourself pause in it. Less thinking. More feeling.”

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Pose benefits

Revolved Triangle strengthens and stretches the legs, opens the chest to improve breathing, relieves mild back pain and improves your sense of balance.

Revolved Triangle Pose: Step-by-Step Instructions

Woman demonstrates Revolved Triangle Pose
  1. Begin in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) at the top of your mat.
  2. Place your hands at your hips, and notice that your frontal hipbones are square to the front of your mat.
  3. Observe also that the two sides of your waist are equally long—your side bodies are even.
  4. Now, imagine a central axis like a column of energy running through your torso from your pelvic floor to the crown of your head.
  5. With every inhalation, emphasize both the length and the integrity of this axis; the column is straight and is not tilting or curving off to one side or another.
  6. Keeping your hips square and your hands at your hips, step your left foot back 3½–4 feet.
  7. Line up heel to heel with the back foot at a 45-degree angle.
  8. Having stepped back, notice what has changed with the pelvis. To recreate the pelvis from Mountain Pose, root down with your right big toe mound while pinning your right outer hip back and in toward your left heel.
  9. Spin your left inner thigh back to roll your left outer hip forward. • Simultaneously press your left thighbone back and drop anchor with your left heel.
  10. Inhale, and raise your left arm; exhale, and reach your torso forward, aiming your sternum for the front center of your mat.
  11. Place your left hand to the outside of your right ankle, and take your right arm to the ceiling, hand above your right ear, gaze to your top thumb.
  12. Continue to pin your right hip back and in while pressing your left femur back—the effort is to keep the two sides of your waist equally long.
  13. Inhale to lengthen your spine, maintaining the integrity of your central axis by aiming your sternum to the front center of your mat, rather than letting it drift to one side or the other.
  14. Exhale to revolve around that length.
  15. Hold for 5–10 breaths, then take your gaze to the floor, and backstroke your right arm toward the back of your mat and windmill your left arm up and around to exit the pose.
  16. Return to Mountain Pose at the front of your mat.
  17. Repeat on the other side.

Beginner’s tip

This pose is slightly easier with a narrower stance. Beginners should also bring their hand to the inner foot, whether on the floor or on a support like a block or folding chair.

Teaching Parivrtta Trikonasana

These tips will help protect your students from injury and help them have the best experience of the pose:

  • One of the most common problems in this pose is the inability to keep the back heel grounded, which makes the pose very unstable. There are various ways to help students deal with the back heel. First, of course, you can advise students to accept the situation and work diligently to press through the heel (and open the back-leg groin) even though it’s off the floor. Second, you can advise students to perform the pose with their back heels wedged against a wall, which gives them something to push into. Or finally, they can raise the back heel on a lift and, over time, work to gradually lower the lift until the heel stays on the floor.
  • When students bring their bottom hand to the outside of the forward leg, advise them to press the forearm firmly against the outer shin. This pressure of arm-against-leg will help their torsos rotate more deeply into the pose.

Variation: Revolved Triangle Pose with a Block

Man does Revolved Triangle modification with a block
Follow the directions for the primary pose, but bring your hand to a block at any height rather than the floor. If you do not have a block, you can bring your hand up higher on your shin rather than on the floor.

Preparatory Poses

Bharadvajasana (Bharadvaja’s Twist)

Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I)

Parsvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose)

Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)

Follow-up Poses

Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

Gain access to Yoga Journal’s members-only pose library—which features video instruction, anatomy know-how, and additional pose variations—by joining Outside+ today. You’ll also get exclusive yoga sequences and practice tips, access to our faculty of yoga experts, on-demand courses and classes and more. There’s never been a better time to join.