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Saturday, July 9, 2016

Tip of the Week: Posture Tips for Triangle Pose

“Triangle pose, this is the master posture of the series, the perfect marriage between the heart and lungs, forcing them to work together like an arranged marriage in India. They may not want to be together at first, but they have to be. No choice.” says Bikram in many of his classes. For many practitioners, triangle remains one of the most challenging poses in the Bikram method. The pose involves strength, flexibility and rigorous attention to form if you are going to improve.

What is happening in the pose…
The Bikram Method Triangle is an integrated posture – building equal amounts of strength AND flexibility through the hips, pelvis, shoulders and torso. Whichever quality your body needs, you will feel, so don’t scare! The base of a proper triangle posture deeply strengthens the muscles of the legs. This greatly improves the stability of the body through strengthening and aligning the legs and hips. Because of this, the organs in the hip area (colon, kidneys, reproductive organs) benefit as do the associated chakras.

The twist through the upper body in combination with the deep opening of the arms helps to create length in the torso which helps provide adequate room for the organs in the chest to function properly. The combination of the twist and the opening of the hips also helps relieve back pain.
Finally, the deep challenge involved helps to build self-awareness, opening of the heart chakra helps to build authenticity and helps to connect you with the things you love. Plus, it feels damn awesome to achieve two good sets of  triangle posture at this climactic point of class!

“What doesn’t triangle do? It improves every single bone, muscle, joint, tendon, and internal organ, and it revitalizes nerves, veins and tissues.” – Bikram
“No more saddlebags” – Rajashree
Physical Benefits…
  • An excellent cardiovascular workout, with very little movement.
  • Increases stability
  • Tones arms, abdomen and thighs
  • Builds better overall body alignment through strengthening of the legs
  • Intensely stretches the side of the body
  • Lengthens the spine, opens the torso and broadens the shoulders which allows proper function of other physiological systems (cardiovascular, digestive etc.)
  • Reduce saddle bags
  • Good for frozen shoulder
  • Helps regulate hormone levels
  • Helps to build awareness of hunger, helping with eating disorders
  • Helps with: constipations, colitis, low blood pressure, appendicitis, spondylitis, menstrual disorders
  • Helps to balance adrenal glands and the production of the stress hormone, cortisol
Energetic Benefits…
  • Opens Heart chakra
  • Strengthens base chakra
Emotional Benefits..
  • Helps to ground the practitioner through turning attention and strengthening the legs
  • Builds overall body awareness and self-appreciation
  • Builds self-awareness helping to liberate the practitioner from emotional patterns
  • Builds concentration
  • Relieves stress and anxiety
“Triangle is the key posture to bring faith back to the spirit,” – Bikram
Take a BIG step…
Beginners often take too small of a step in Triangle. It would seem that a smaller step would make the pose easier, but truly the 4-5 foot step ensures that the final pose is properly aligned. When proper alignment is reached, a natural dynamic tension will help to suspend the posture.

Allow the hips to open…
Don’t worry if you don’t look exactly like your neighbor! Especially in beginners, everyone’s hips will have a different level of movement. Commit to working just as the teacher says – push the left hip forward to mirror as you push the right knee back with the elbow (and vice versa) to create a deep opening of the hips similar to tree posture.

To prevent slipping…
Bikram says you should be able to do this pose on a marble floor with olive oil, however most of us slip in the beginning. Do not blame the floor! (Seriously). It is important to engage the inner thigh muscles to maintain the pose. Also, try focusing on pushing the outer edge, from the pinky-toe to heel, of your foot into the floor. And make sure you are sitting down low enough, this grounds the body also.

About touching the toes…
If you cannot touch your toes, quick check in the mirror that you are sitting down low enough. You will have to will yourself to sit down all the way parallel, and then the toes will be veeery close…

And then: “Stretch UP to stretch down”. The arms have to stretch in both directions, literally shoulder blades coming out of the body, to create a good spacious triangle where you can touch the toes without collapsing. The more strength you bring to your WHOLE body in the triangle, the easier it will be to maintain for the required time.

“Even if the hips are not flexible, you must touch the toes with the hand.” – Bikram

Head and neck alignment…
The instructions in the dialogue in this pose say to look up to the ceiling, with the side turn of the head instead of look back. Always remember the objective of turning the head is to touch the chin directly with the shoulder.

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