The spine can move in 4 ways:  it can bend forwards and backwards, rotate to the right and left and it can bend to the right and left. Yoga encourages us to move the spine in all of all these ways to ensure maximum flexibility. This is why it is important to practice a  wide range of yoga postures and not just to practice a few favorite poses, tempting as that is!

In Triangle Pose, the spine bends to the side, or bends laterally, if you want to be fancy about it. The body forms 5 triangles, hence the name. It is a wonderful position for the hips, in particular, which tend to degenerate prematurely, due to our mainly sedentary lifestyle. Triangle tones them up and makes them flexible again.  However, like Warrior Pose, it is quite a technical position and there’s lots of bits and bobs to learn about it. Otherwise, the spine goes out of alignment and you end up putting pressure on the discs. Plus, the neck does funny things in this pose. Therefore, I favour the straitjacket approach i.e. I tell students to practice the pose against a wall which restricts their movement and forces them into aligning their spines correctly. The ideal situation is if you can place your hand on a radiator. If not, a chair placed beside the wall will do. Learn the leg and hip movements first, before adding in the arm movements. Go slowly and take your time learning this one. Bad habits take only minutes to learn, but years to unlearn. Speaking from experience, yet again…

How to practice Triangle Pose:

  • Warm your hips beforehand. Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. With the knees bent, swing from side to side: navel, chest, right shoulder…then navel, chest, left shoulder. Repeat several times.
  • Stand with your back against a radiator. If this is not possible, stand with your back against a wall with a chair placed on your right side about a foot away from you. The seat of the chair should be facing you.
  • Inhale, exhale, and take your feet apart about 3.5 – 4ft (1-1.2m).
  • Inhale, exhale, turn your right foot out to the right (90 degrees) and turn your left foot in slightly (about 45 degrees). At the same time, take your arms out to the sides to shoulder height.
  • Now, check (a) that your hips are facing forwards; (b) that your right heel is in line with the centre of your left foot; (c) that your arms are in line and that your hands are in contact with the wall; (d) that the back of your head is in contact with the wall.
  • Inhale, exhale, and move your left hip out to the left. (Think of the way the hip moves to the side in the nursery rhyme in I’m a Little Teapot or the hip movement of a petulant teenager as they put their hands on their hips and say “So!” )
  • Inhale, exhale, and start slowly sliding the back of the head, the right shoulder and the right arm  down the wall towards the right side until you can place your right hand on the radiator or on the seat of the chair.
  • Now, start sliding your left arm up the wall (with the palm of the hand facing outwards) until it is in line with the crown of the head. Rest the back of the hand on the wall.
  • Breathe in and out for 6 breaths. As you inhale, stretch up into the fingers of your left hand. As you exhale, keep moving your left hip back towards the wall and your tailbone down towards the left heel. However, do not over strain in the hip.
  • Look straight ahead. (Note: Many yoga books show photos of people looking up at the hand overhead but this is not advisable until you know the pose really well.)
  • To come out of the pose, inhale and slowly slide the left arm down the wall again and bring the right side of the body back upwards. Repeat on other side. Repeat x 2-3 times.
  • When you understand alignment in the position, you can come away from the wall and place your hand on your leg instead. You can then keep moving your hand further down your leg until you can place your hand on the floor, maybe… It depends on the flexibility of the hips. If you never get past the radiator stage, it doesn’t matter. It’s still Triangle Pose and your hips will love you anyway!

NEED HELP?  If you find the pose strenuous, wait for a day when your energy is higher. Triangle Pose improves your vitality, but first you need to have enough energy to practice it.

~If you are very stiff in the hips, try placing your hand on the back of a chair instead of the seat.

STOP! DO NOT take the arm overhead if you suffer from high blood pressure or heart problems. Place your hand on your hip instead.

~ Proceed very carefully, if you have hip problems or disc problems. If necessary, place your hand on your hip instead of taking it overhead. This will reduce the pressure of the bend.

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