Transcript below of: Alignment in triangle pose: How Should it be done?
Hey everybody! Welcome to this month’s question of the month. And of course, if you want to submit a question you can go to yoganatomy.com/myquestion. This question comes from Randolph and it’s about finding the right alignment in triangle pose.
“Okay here goes. [As] trikonasana [is] a major foundational asana, I have seen many practitioners exhibit more flexion in the spine causing them to be way inside their base. Also the neck continues this by being hunched forward. Seeing them try to look up is painful. Where is the block created in this and how can we correct this? Please and thank you.”
Hi Randolph! Good question, complex answer. I’m going to assume for just a moment that when you say: “seeing them look up is painful”, that that is you projecting that experience onto them. But, maybe not. Maybe some people are complaining about neck pain. That’s possible.
Form versus function
You know, this brings up the idea of form or function and which you’re going to give precedence to. So, based on your question, there’s concern about form, which is totally reasonable, by the way. The other side of that coin is function. So, depending on how functional somebody’s body and joints are, is going to impact the form that they can create. We always have to keep that in mind.
It’s not like function is the right way to go or form is the right way to go. They interact with one another. So, in this particular case, and as I always do, I try to look at the individual and what it is about them doing the pose, meaning their tensional patterns, their functional patterns, that either are or are not allowing them to get into the form the way we want it. What is the right alignment in triangle?
The head is in relationship to the rest of the body
So, in this particular case, let’s go backwards from the head, back through the spine, pelvis, and down into the legs. The head is looking painful because it’s not in the right place to rotate from. It’s not in the right place because of course, the head is connected to the spine. The spine’s not in the right place because it’s curving (I’m assuming that’s what you’re describing). It’s kind of curving forward and being out in front of the feet, but the spine is connected to the pelvis.
Why is the pelvis where it is? Well, the pelvis is there because, well there are a couple of parts there. One is it can be the style of triangle that you’re doing. If you’re doing a low one and grabbing the toe, like an Ashtanga version of it, that’s always going to cause the pelvis to tilt, in 95% of people. If you’re doing a higher one, then that might allow the pelvis to be in a better position and then the spine more aligned. So, you’ve got to decide how much of this is the style of posture that you’re doing.
The other thing is, how much tension is around those hips? The tighter the muscles are around the hips, the tighter the hamstring is on that front leg – all of that is going to impact the position of the pelvis and that position of the pelvis then dictates what the spine is going to do above it.
Lastly, look at the feet. What is the alignment of those feet because that is also then going to impact the way in which the pelvis above is tilted, held, or rotated. So, that whole chain, you’ve got to look down that whole chain in order to determine which part of it is, which is all colored by the style of triangle, or trikonasana, that you’re choosing to do.
So, don’t look at just the effect, which is the head, which is kind of the biggest part of this that you were describing. Start there, but then come back, and especially come back to the foundation or the base of the posture and look all the way through those two ends of it.
I hope that helped and gave you some ideas of where to look next.
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