POSE OF THE MONTH: Triangle Poseby Jenn Tarrant | 30/06/2017
With a smart cueing and a well-placed prop, we can deconstruct this angular pose in a way that brings length and freedom to the spine.
I don’t know how you felt about geometry in high school with all its lines, shapes, vertices, and angles—acute, obtuse, right, and otherwise— but keeping all those definitions straight can be quite a challenge. No matter what your experience was, I think you’ll find deconstructing Triangle Pose a much more pleasant way to understand math. Just seeing how the right length and a strong tilt can create a beautiful and useful shape just might be enough to win you over. Let’s take a look at Triangle Pose now to see if we can create length through the spine and a strong tilt in the hips to achieve the proper angle. Our math teachers would be so proud!
Main Elements of Triangle:
Spinal extension (and rotation)
Most Challenging Elements:
Keeping the spine long (without rounding)
Stacking shoulders one on top of the other (avoiding the top shoulder falling forward)
Creating (and maintaining) the crease in the front hip (abduction)
Avoiding lateral flexion on both sides
Releasing the need to go deeper
Begin with the YogaFit standard Warm-Up (standing or supine) and a few rounds of Sun Salutations to warm the body.
Spinal Extension and Hip Abduction
Throughout Warm-Up and Mountain II, focus on poses that create opportunity to explore extending the spine like Monkey and Airplane. Also work into deeper extensions like we find in Low Lunge. Also, be sure to include plenty of experiences where hips are in abduction like Moonflowers and Sunflowers, Sun Pose and Standing Straddle Splits. Also, Warrior 2 and Side Angle Stretch are great to work into the hips.
Getting into Triangle
Begin in Warrior 2, and reach back into Reverse Triangle. Cue students to keep their legs strong and feet engaged; invite them to notice the length along the front rib cage. Let them know we will be maintaining this length when we transition into Triangle. Cue students to come back up to a “T” shape, then creasing into the front hip crease, encourage them to soften the knees and reach forward toward the front wall to lengthen even more through the bottom ribcage. Once they have lengthened, cue them to drop their bottom hand, let it rest wherever it lands (thigh, shin, ankle, or floor), and open the top shoulder and arm up so that shoulders are stacking.
Take a moment to observe the class. Many students will slide the bottom hand down too far, taking shoulders out of alignment, rounding the back and collapsing the chest. If this happens for most of your students, it may be helpful to bring the whole class out of the pose and encourage everyone to raise their bottom hand up a few inches higher, either resting it on their shin or using a block. This will allow them to create enough room for the rotation through the ribs they need to stack the shoulders.
Another problem arises when students bring the hand too far down toward the floor: they come into lateral flexion. The bottom ribcage should be long and straight (almost parallel to the top ribcage), not rounded like a rainbow. Once again, raising the supporting hand up a few inches on the front shin or thigh (or block) alleviates this misalignment, too.
Finally, what about that top arm? If you notice students struggling to raise their arm while keeping the shoulders stacked, encourage them to simply put their hand on their waist or sacrum. This will help them experience the gentle spinal twisting action in the pose, the alignment of the shoulders, and the opening of the chest. Once they feel the freedom and space such an opening affords, then they can begin to play with lifting the arm overhead.
Many students will find a stronger experience and more depth of the stretch when using Pose Enhancers (aka Props). Blocks are fantastic in Triangle Pose. Placing a block under the front hand has many benefits. Supporting the hand on a block brings stability to the pose because students are no longer reaching for the floor nor are they trying to find stability on their own body, which may feel wobbly here. The block also creates the needed space to lengthen the spine and open the shoulders. Additionally, having that extra space and support allows more room for the gentle rotation in the ribs that allows the shoulders to stack one on top of the other! Practicing Triangle by placing the outer edge of the back foot against the wall and the front leg toward the center of the room can bring attention to the strength and the proper alignment of the legs. The majority of students can benefit greatly from the use of this simple tool.
With a few alignment cues, most students can practice Triangle Pose with ease and find increased range of motion as well as enhanced balance.
What’s your favorite thing about Triangle Pose? Let us know in the comments below!
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