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Parivrtta Trikonasana Revolved Triangle Pose:

How to Practice Parivrtta Trikonasana

~ Strengtherls feet, ankles, legs, and hips

~ Creates flexibility in hip joints, legs, and spinal column

~ Increases blood supply to lower spine

~ Stimulates blood flow through peivic and abdominal organs

~ Develops sense of balance

In Figure 1 we see a tight yoga student trying to imitate B.K.S. Iyengar in Light on Yoga. Restrictions in the groins and feet bind up the spine and compress the breathing, disturbing consciousness. The mind struggles to "do" the pose. This is not yoga. As the cosmic law of differentiation demonstrates, each body, each being, each moment in time is unique. There is no mold into which we must cram ourselves. The question for the practitioner of asanas is, How can this body, this atman, express the essence of the pose, given the physical reality of the present moment? How can we begin to explore the form and still allow the breath to flow freely, the blood to circulate fully, the mind to watch quietly? As B.K.S. Iyengar states in The Tree of Yoga, "One should not adjust the asana to fit one's body structure, but mold the body to the requirement of the asana. Then the asana will have the right physical, physiological, intellectual, and spiritual bearing."(4)

Parivrtta Trikonasana is first of all a standing pose, which means that the legs have to be firmly grounded on Mother Earth. In Tadasana, the first of the standing poses, the legs learn to work while directly under the spinal column and torso. In Revolved Triangle, the legs are spread three to four feet apart to create a triangular base for the torso and spine (Figure 5 ). The heel of the front foot should be in line with the heel or arch of the back foot.

Second, Parivrtta Trikonasana is a forward-bending asana, as the pelvis flexes through the hip joints over the stable legs, bringing the spine away from the upright position and toward a position parallel to the floor. Third, it is a twisting pose, as the pelvis then rotates over the femur bones and the entire spinal column rotates around and up toward the ceiling.

In Figure 1, we see that in this body, today, the legs are unable to support the torso when the hand is taken to the floor. The hip joint restriction locks the pelvis into an awkward position, and this in turn distorts the spine and collapses the abdomen. The respiration and circulation are both diminished.

In Figure 2, the student has adjusted for tight hamstrings in the forward bend by elevating the hand, and for tight groins and outer hips in the twist by moving the hand away from the inner groin. The first action frees the pelvis to reconnect the legs to the spinal column; the second adjustment releases the breath into the abdomen and pelvis, opening circulation, softening the sense organs, and quieting the brain. Because the legs are feeding the spine with lift, the student can stay in the pose, developing strength and stability. Because the breath is flowing quietly, the student can feel the subtleties of the pose and begin to open the body farther. This is communion, in which all the various cells, nerves, organs, and muscle fibers begin to work together consciously. As the tightened muscles are released into the bones, the bones grow stronger, the body grows longer, and the range of freedom increases. The hand position can gradually (over a period of years, for many of us) be brought into the completed position (to the floor and outside the leg; Figure 5.)

In Figure 5, we can look more closely at the spirals that underlie this twisting asana. The primary twisting action comes from the legs. (See "Yoga for Hips & Thighs" for a more complete description of the double spirals of the groin region.) The muscular action of the legs involves a downward or grounding spiral and an upward or lifting spiral. Kinesiologically speaking, the downward spiral involves internal rotation of the leg (femur and tibia) and pronation and dorsiflexion of the foot. The upward spirals include their antagonists: external rotation of the leg and supination and plantar flexion of the foot. When both occur simultaneously (actually a very rapid oscillation between the two), the bones of the feet and legs stabilize and carry both the grounding and lifting energies. (Feel the contact of the feet on the floor and adjust and balance to maintain even contact through big toe, little toe, and inner and outer heels.) The grounding of the legs creates a lift that is received by the spinal column and transformed into an extended spiral that flows in a wavelike motion from the coccyx bone through the top of the skull.

As in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) and all other poses, the skin moves up the front of the body (with the anterior spine elongating in the same direction) and down toward the coccyx on the back of the body. This action is difficult in the bottom shoulder region, as the bottom shoulder blade is often dragged toward the front of the body. In Figure 4 we see the dynamic action required in the shoulder blade as it moves to the tail bone and presses firmly into the rib cage to help open the chest. In Figure 3 we see an interesting variation on the pose. In this position the back leg is now internally rotated, with the toes in and the heel out, exactly opposite of the standard way of executing the pose. This action gives a very different feeling to the hips and spine. In the normal position, the anterior spine (especially on the back-leg side) receives more of the twist, whereas in Figure 3, the posterior portion of the spine receives more of the twist. In the depths of a well-performed asana, we experience an emergence of awe in the face of an infinitely powerful and mysterious universe. This innocent, childlike state, which is full of reverence for the amazing reality of pure being, has to be carefully nurtured and developed so it begins to permeate all aspects of our lives. In this manner we become the universe, open to the creative spontaneities of the present moment and no longer so full of ourselves as isolated egos. Brian Swimme puts it this way:

"I condense our contemporary cosmological scientific story of reality by saying that the universe is a green dragon. Green because the whole universe is alive, an embryogenesis beginning with the cosmic egg of the primeval fireball and culminating in the present emergent reality. And a dragon too, nothing less. Dragons are mystical, powerful, emerging out of mystery, disappearing in mystery, fierce, benign, known to teach humans the deepest reaches of wisdom. And dragons are filled with fire. Though there are no dragons, we are dragon fire. We are the creative, scintillating, searing, healing flame of the awesome and enchanting universe."(5)

1. Brian Swimme, The Universe Is a Green Dragon (Santa Fe: Bear and Co., 1984), p. 87.
2. Thomas Berry, 7'he Dream of the ~arth (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1988), p. 37.
3. William Blake, The Portable Blake (New York: Viking Press, 1968), p. 150.
4. B.K.S. Iyengar, The 'Iree of Yoga (Boston: Shambhala, 1989), p. 55.
5. Swimme, op cit., p.l71.

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Parivrtta Trikonasana
Revolved Triangle Pose

The triangle is trinity becoming unity, Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle) is the complement to Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose), as the pelvis and torso are rotated in the opposite direction.

(Incorrect) This student is trying to force the pose onto his body. Tightness in the legs and pelvis restricts range of motion, and thus the pelvic and abdominal regions are com pressed and distorted as the brain strug gles to "do" the pose.

This student allows the freedom of the pose to be expressed. The legs are still very active, but the hand is elevated and moved to the in side of the front leg to liberate the spinal column, breathing, and circulation to the lower body. The top arm hand (hard to see) rests on the pelvis to guide the intelligence to the pelvis and lower spine.

In this varation, the back leg, which normally turns out, is , now turned inward. The pelvis and spinal column here receive more of the twist.

In this view of the pose, notice the action on the lower shoulder blade and bottom armpit. This region has to move away from the neck and press into the rib cage to open the back-leg side of the chest.

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