Triangle Pose: Root Down to Rise Up
by Graham Fowler
As with most yoga poses, the seeming simplicity of the Triangle Pose can obscure the depths it offers. So this month, we provide two articles on the topic to help you deepen your practice.
Every yoga pose holds secrets for self-discovery, and Triangle Pose, or Trikonasana, is no exception. A key to the hidden secrets of Triangle pose can be found in the fourth chakra.
Chakras are centers for the reception, storage and distribution of prana, the primal force that animates and supports all life. In the subtle body, seven major chakras are arrayed from the root of the body to the crown of the head.
Anahata, the heart chakra, is midway from root to crown, at the center of the chest. A basic issue of this fourth chakra, given its position between above and below, is balance—the integration of opposite forces.
In ancient Tantric diagrams, the fourth chakra is depicted as two overlapping triangles. One faces downward; the other faces upward. The balance of these interpenetrating triangles represents the state of yoga, the integration of opposites: mind and body with spirit and soul.
The triangle facing downward symbolizes the pull of gravity and downward movement of consciousness manifesting into form. The upward-facing triangle represents the ascent of matter into spirit. The two meet in perfect balance at the heart.
Performing Triangle Pose is a perfect opportunity to explore these two triangles as we seek balance and integration of opposite forces at play in our practice and in our lives.
While so many of us love the physicality of the asanas, the poses, there’s so much more. Here are some prompts to evoke awareness and integration of the opposites in your Triangle Pose. With a sense of innocent curiosity, allow these prompts to deepen and expand your practice beyond a simple workout. Let them inspire in you more depth, awareness and insights on and off the yoga mat.
Root Down to Rise Up: Let the pull of gravity send the bones of your legs down into the earth. From that sense of grounding, do you feel an ascending force, rebounding up the legs, lengthening your torso and opening the wings of your arms? Do you feel both grounded and expanded?
Effort and Grace: Can you find a balance between doing and being? Can you apply solid alignment principles and effort while allowing the pose to have a life of its own? Do you get a sense of effortlessness as the deeper intelligence of the body awakens to guide you? Where else in your life might you find more of this balance between making things happen and letting them happen?
Breathe In, Breathe Out: Do you ever forget to breathe while practicing? Your breath is your link among all the parts of your body, between your body and mind, and to the Source beyond it all. Use the breath to scan awareness throughout your body. Where you feel tension in the muscles, take in a breath, and as you exhale, unclench. This is a great practice that you can do at any time during the day—on or off the mat.
Notice the effects of the in-breath and out-breath on your experience. If you lengthen your inhalation, you are energizing the body. Lengthening the exhalation increases the restorative and releasing effect of the pose. What happens physically and energetically for you if you briefly hold the breath in as you practice? Notice what happens as you exhale after that holding.
Front and Back: Are you as present to the back of your body as you are to the front? Search for equal connection to the earth through both legs. Scan the back of your torso and let your inner teacher guide you into micro adjustments for a more balanced pose.
Goal and Contentment: What do you want to achieve with your Triangle today? A deeper stretch in the hamstrings? Cleaner alignment? More groundedness? More openness in the torso? All of the above?
Having aspirations for our yoga practice can add just the right amount of challenge, keep things interesting and help us grow. To keep it balanced, yoga philosophy embraces a precept called santosha, contentment. [Read more about santosha in “Live Like a Yogi Part 2” in our July 2019 issue.] Our bodies constantly change, and that will show up on the mat. On the days we’re not as open or flexible, santosha teaches us to be happy with where we are in the pose.
As we become older, santosha reminds us to modify our practice and our aspirations so that we can keep having fun and reap the benefits of the beautiful practice of yoga.Graham Fowler is creating a haven on the banks of the Upper Tallulah River for yogis and lovers of nature. Contact him at [email protected].