My first year practicing yoga was filled with more than a few challenges. I felt inflexible in almost every posture and barely had the strength to make it through the flow classes I attended at my local gym. Still, I came to class twice each week and through sheer will and an intense competitive drive to keep up with the other students, I managed to get through all the poses and all the vinyasas.
I particularly remember my struggle with Triangle pose (trikonasana). My legs felt incredibly tight and I had a hard time balancing while gazing towards my top hand. Given that my focus at the time was simply keeping up with everyone in class, I saw my fellow yogis with their bottom fingers balanced on the earth and wanted to do the same. As my hand reached the floor, my hips closed and I lost the openness that characterizes Triangle.
Many moons later, I still feel the urge to bring my fingers towards the floor. While I see this one expression of the posture as being the goal, I know this attachment doesn’t serve my practice. If you experience a similar feeling in Triangle, here are a couple suggestions to be more mindful about your alignment and less concerned with dropping your hand to the earth:
– Practice your triangle at home against a wall. Feel both hips connect to the wall and feel an equal degree of broadness through your back and chest. As you begin to lower your fingers, make sure to maintain this expansiveness. From here, you can see where your fingers rest on your leg when in proper alignment. Remember this spot on your leg so that when you’re in class you can adjust your hand accordingly.
– Another option is to close your eyes while upright, before lowering into your triangle. Feel your hips and chest open and focus on that openness as you lower your fingers. The moment you feel your hips start to close, lift your fingers higher until you regain that openness.
Only when expectations are released can you achieve the full benefit of the pose, physically, mentally, and spiritually.