āsana lab: utthita trikoṇāsana (triangle pose)

  1. Start in Samasthitiḥ and jump the legs 3½ to 4 feet apart. Turn the left toes slightly in and the whole of the right foot and leg out to 90°. To turn the foot keep the heel down and rotate the toes of both feet. Observe that the heel of the right foot stays in line with the left arch. You can either jump your arms out with the feet and keep them extended to the side or rest them on your hips while you adjust your feet and legs. Press the outer edge of your left foot down firmly and ensure that your inner heel and big toe of the right foot is firmly pressed down, lift the inner ankles, lift up the things and ensure that the fronts of the thighs on both legs press firmly up and back.
  2. Lift the right arm up and think about extending up and over across the room with that right arm. Exhale to go into the pose. Don’t think about getting the palm to the floor; that will come; but rather extend the right side of the body and the ribs up and over the right hip and place the right hand firmly and rest it on the right shin or ankle. You can use a brick for the right hand. Extend both sides of the trunk evenly in the direction of the head. Don’t hold the breath!
  3. Re-energise the outer edge of the left foot keep pressing it down firmly and keep lifting the whole inner aspect of the left inner leg (ankle, shin, knee and groin) and lift up and press the front of the left thigh up and back. Don’t let the left thigh swing forward. Keep the big toes and inner heel of the right foot active and pressed down, don’t let the right foot fall towards its outer edge. Keep the weight even on both feet and keep rotating the whole of the right leg from inside out and keep the right thigh lifted up and back. See that the right inner groin stays forward and that the right buttock does not hang back but stays in. Outer hips remain firm.
  4. Imagine that you are in a thin display case and cannot move forward or backward the whole of the body needs to move to the side – keep the right groin moving forward and right buttock in! Left thigh back!
  5. Keeping the legs firm rotate the trunk forward and keep extending both sides of the trunk towards the head evenly. The spine must extend! If you have your left hand on your hip now extend it up towards the ceiling, palm facing forwards. Take the tops of the shoulders away from the ears and if you have no stiffness in the neck turn the head to look at the ceiling. Stay 20 – 30 seconds breathing normally.
  6. Inhale to come up. Turn the feet to face forwards and repeat on the left side.
  7. These are the foundations of the pose, which can be attained with regular, repeated, mindful practice. However to get to Patañjali’s effortless easy: all the actions of the body must happen simultaneously so that the whole or holistic asana is struck at the same time and the various actions of the body aren’t compartmentalised.

Harishini teaches Iyengar yoga in Soho on Wednesdays at 5.30pm.

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