Modifications for Trikonasana

Last week I showed you some ways to modify Warrior II. This week we are going to cover another challenging standing pose, trikonasana.

There are a couple of general rules when it comes to doing triangle pose or trikonasana.  Your goal is to make an isosceles triangle with your body...working up to placing your lower hand on the floor and your spine straight and parallel to the floor.

3 Modifications for Trikonasana - Triangle Pose

1. Start high up on your shin.

I generally put my hand on my shin.  My shin is much taller than using a block as a prop.  I have issues with tilting my pelvis and my abductor strength, so I really can mess up my back if I'm not careful.

Using the block forces me to go lower than I normally would, but, I do know that I eventually have to make it to the floor.  Sigh.

2. Use two blocks.

If I use two blocks and place one near the wall for my toes to go up on it forces my quad to engage in the front leg.  The second block lets me go a bit lower to the floor.

When you're folded sideways into Triangle, you build strength in your torso muscles, which support the weight of your spine, rib cage, and head against the pull of gravity.

As you train the muscles around your shoulders to keep your arms in place, you're not only teaching yourself not to slump but also opening your chest so your lungs can expand more fully.

Engaging your front leg with your toes up a block works first on strengthening the front leg.

3. Put your back foot on the wall.

Once you feel your front leg is stronger, you can switch up the pose and place the back foot on the wall. For your front leg, press out through your right leg into the four corners of the foot, as though you're trying to push the mat away from the floor.

This will engage your quadriceps to support your right knee - which was the purpose of using the block in modification 2.

Next, place your back hand on the hip of your back foot.

Inhale and, as you begin to exhale, push with your front hand so your front buttock slides back, away from your head and torso. This will initiate your pelvis tipping to the front and help you maximize the length of your hamstrings and adductors.

When you feel your hamstrings and adductors stretching, reach for your block. When the leg stretch becomes intense, that's a sign you've rotated the pelvis as far as you can.

The important thing here is to keep your spine straight.  If you have to use a chair or two blocks, it's better to use that than to curve your spine trying to reach lower than you should.

Instead of reaching for something your body isn't ready for, remind yourself that it takes years to develop the hamstring and adductor flexibility that allows you to put a hand on the floor without curving the spine.

Until you can do that, use a block and work regularly on stretching your hamstrings and adductors. Eventually, you'll work your way to the floor without sacrificing the length of your spine.