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Parivrtta Trikonasana
The Revolved Triangle Pose


Squaring Your Hips

Begin as in the previous pose, with your feet about arms’-length apart and parallel with each other. Then turn your left foot and leg and pelvis about 20 degrees to the right. Pivot your right leg and hip so the thigh, knee, and foot turn 90 degrees out from their original position, line your heels up with each other for stability, and place your hands on your hips.

Once you have established your standing position, direct your attention to the left leg. Though you can no longer see the leg, you can feel it. Knowing body movement and position by sensation rather visual confirmation is an essential skill in hatha yoga. As you did earlier, spread the ball joints of the foot, rooting your big and little toe joints as well as the center of the heel. When well grounded you will feel an internal lift flow up your leg, bringing space and inner support to your joints. While you may need to encourage this rebound a bit by lifting the front ankle or knee, the point of any such external action is to facilitate inner movement.

Now that your back leg is grounded, rotate your hips further to the right until they are as close to being side by side as possible (Figure 3). If your hips easily make this rotation, you’re all set. Usually, though, the left hip hangs back. Refrain from turning your hips by rotating your left leg in more. (Doing so will disturb the grounding of the back leg, and keeping the pose rooted is essential: It helps you resist the lure to do the twist from the hips instead of the spine.) Instead, try this method to square your hips: Place your right hand on the right buttock and, with a firm exhalation, move your right hip back, taking care not dislodge the back leg. [You may be surprised to discover that the reason your left hip wouldn’t turn was due to restriction in your right hip]. Moving deeper with your right hip not only opens the hip and moves it back beside the left, it generates a small rotation in the sacrum and squeezes abdominal organs.

Now inhale and again plug your left leg into the earth; exhale to rotate rotate your pelvis forward over the right leg until the torso is parallel to the floor, placing your left fingertips on the floor as close to your right big toe as possible. If you can’t reach the floor, place your hand on your leg or a block or bend your knees slightly (Figure 4). If your hand rests easily on the floor, move it to the little toe side of the foot.

Take a minute to stabilize your base. By this point you have probably realized that Parivrtta Trikonasana is not just a twist but also a balancing pose, which makes it even more necessary to think about your roots. The more grounded your left leg is the lighter, more spacious, and more mobile your right hip will be, making it much easier to find inner symmetry and avoid uncomfortable pressure in your right hip. At the same time, keep the inner environment of your pelvis fluid and steady by focusing on the rhythm of your breath, letting the exhalation and the pause that follows it create internal support for the sacrum and lumbar spine. Recall the sensations of the symmetrical pelvis you experienced in the Parivrtta Prasarita Padotanasana. Imagine that you have a second pair of legs positioned as they were in that pose; let these imaginary legs stabilize your pose.

With the pelvis level but not rigid, exhale and lengthen your spine from the tailbone to the skull. Allow the pulse of your breathing to make tangible and magnify subtle sensations throughout your body, revealing and then softening any areas that seem hard. Exhale to extend through your left arm and press your left hand into the floor, feeling your torso rebound up in response and the spine begin to rotate to the right. As in Parivrtta Prasarita Padotanasana, resist the urge to turn your chest further than it is naturally carried by the arm’s action.

Continue to scan the spine for any signs of tension that could irritate tender ligaments, letting your breath help release the tight spots. As your spinal muscles soften, exhale and extend the right arm upward, allowing this action rotate your spine even more. Be patient and move with the pumping rhythm of the breath. Retreat slightly as you inhale; extend the arms to rotate the spine more as you exhale. Stay strongly connected to your roots by initiating each spinal response from the back belly and by gently keeping your hips level. If at any time your breathing becomes strained, back off until a steady rhythm is restored.

Finally, rotate your head to the right (Figure 5), feeling the enormous influence of this action. Turning your skull sends rotation spiraling down the spine. If your neck hurts as you turn the head, try imagining you are initiating the turn from within you chest. If your balance is disturbed, look back down as you re-root your left leg, steady the pelvis, and calm the belly. Stay focused on your base as you exhale and slowly turn your head again. Persist in working with the head movement; if you don’t turn your head, rotation is reduced not just in the cervical spine but also in the thoracic region, depriving you of the chance to restore movement in this notoriously tight area of the spine.

Stay in Parivrtta Trikonasana for a few breaths. Try closing your eyes to better sense the subtle motion that free breathing sustains even when the outer form of the asana appears static. Let this internal motion help you become ever more comfortable. Identify and release any nagging pockets of holding along the spine until your chest blooms fully from the inside out. Rely on subtle internal movements and your breath as the guides that will tell you when the time has come to leave the pose. As the ability of the structural muscles to support your asana weakens, you will feel strain in your breathing. At that point, inhale and relax your arms, letting the spine uncoil, then exhale and draw your torso up to a standing position, initiating the movement from your pelvic floor. Repeat the last three posture of this practice sequence on the other side (twisting to the left) and then rest in Uttansana.

Not long ago I overheard another yoga teacher scoff at those of us who teach "as though yoga can change the world". Your time spent on the mat may not obviously change the whole world, but it sure can change you. When your asanas are grounded in a solid base, you develop a sense of well-being that endures. Being grounded instills patience and makes you strong. Being grounded keeps you in the here and now. Gandhi once advised that we "become the change we want to see." If you take these fine qualities from your asana practice and apply them in skillful living, you’re taking a step toward doing just that. And, perhaps, toward changing the world.

Barbara Benagh teaches seminars throughout the United States. In September she will be teaching classes on the therapeutic applications of yoga at "The Transformative Practice of Yoga," a Yoga Journal convention held from September 28—30 in Estes Park, Colorado. Call (800) 561-9398 for more info.

Parivrtta Trikonasana
Revolved Triangle Pose

» Demonstrations

» Intro

» Finding Your Ground

» Releasing the Pelvis

» Testing Your Roots

» Squaring Your Hips

Benefits
• Tones legs and hips
• Strengthens upper back
• Improves spinal flexibility
• Massages organs and regulates their function
• Nourishes spinal discs

Contraindications
• Back muscle spasms
• Herniated discs
• Sciatica
• Positional vertigo

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© 2001 Barbara Benagh
Reprinted from Yoga Journal