Bikram yoga, commonly dubbed “hot yoga” for its practice of pumping up the room temperature to an excess of 100 degrees, builds its foundations on 26 postures. Among them is the crucial Triangle pose, or Trikanasana. According to the founders of Bikram, the full-body Triangle pose flexes and strengthens the lower vertebrae as it encourages proper breathing and circulation. To reap the full benefits of the Trikanasana, you must practice proper form from head to toe.
Begin by standing with your back and neck straight, your arms fully extended out to your sides at shoulder-height and your legs spread slightly wider than shoulder-width with your feet flat on the ground. In this pose, your body resembles a sort of star shape. With your right foot, take a large step out to the right side with your knee bent at a 90-degree angle, so your ankle is directly under your knee. Point your toes out to your right side. Extend your left leg out to your left side at a diagonal angle with your toes pointing forward and sole flat. Smoothly rotate your arms, bringing your left arm up and your right arm down, until they are vertical. Simultaneously bring your torso toward your right leg and touch the ground with the fingertips of your right hand, your palm facing outward. Hold your left arm straight up and fully extended – palm facing out, just like your right hand – and turn your head, looking up at your fingertips. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
Touch the floor only gently with your fingertips; don't press your fingers or hand into the ground. Your elbow should not reach past your knee. At the end of the pose, your arms should be perpendicular. Maintain a straight spine and straight arms until your bend your torso. As you rotate your arms, think of replicating the smooth, sweeping motion of a windmill. Keep your abdominal muscles engaged throughout the movement.
Distribute your weight evenly across both feet – avoid favoring one foot over the other. For this posture, think of your lower body as providing a solid, weighted base for your upper body. Keep your left leg straight and avoid sagging your right knee at any time during the Trikanasana. At all times, keep the soles of your feet firmly pressed into the ground.
More Bikram Tips
If you can't perform this stretch to its full depth, don't fret. Focus on nailing proper posture and form rather than overstretching; with time and practice, you'll develop the ability to stretch further, but you must build a solid foundation first. If you're in a class, don't worry about what your classmates are doing; clear your mind before starting yoga practice and focus entirely on what is happening with your body. Don't fidget, itch or wipe sweat away between postures. As you exit the triangle pose, feel the blood rushing through your body and concentrate on complete stillness. Breathe regularly and deeply throughout your yoga program.
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