Parivrtta Trikonasana
Twisting the Ribcage in Revolving Triangle Pose

revolving triangle (parivrtta trikonasana) with bottom hand outside foot.

One way to prepare for parivrtta trikonasana (twisting triangle pose) is to do a standing forward bend with one leg forwards and the other back.

Prior to bending forwards, you can stand with your legs set up and move your hips from side to side.

Note that this action can also be used to warm up or prepare for parsvottanasana, where the hands are behind the back in prayer.

Because this is an asymetrical pose, initially focus on keeping your pelvis facing the front as you move your hips from side to side.

Naturally tendency may be for your back leg hip to move back. You can then practice moving your back leg hip forwards as you move your pelvis fro side to side. Repeat this action while bending forwards with your hands either on your leg or on the floor.

As you get used to feeling your pelvis, you can then hold it stationary, varying its position to change the stretch. Ideally you can start of with the pelvis in a position that makes it easier to stretch, then gradually find your way into a more challenging position.

By moving your hips slowly while standing and then while bending forwards, you'll learn to feel where the challenging positions are.

What to Do in Parivrtta Trikonasana?

Parivrtta Trikonasana (or Revolving Triangle) is a twisting yoga pose. When doing it you can use your front leg to push your pelvis back. You can then reach your ribcage and head forwards, away from your pelvis.

To help open your ribcage, focus on lengthening the sides of your neck.

You can use your arms, (and your abs and intercostals) to twist and turn your ribcage while also using your legs to keep your pelvis level in this standing yoga posture.

revolving triangle (parivrtta trikonasana or twisting triangle) bending forwards and getting ready to twistrevolving triangle (parivrtta trikonasana or twisting triangle) bending forwards and reaching arm uprevolving triangle (parivrtta trikonasana or twisting triangle) deepening the twistrevolving triangle (parivrtta trikonasana or twisting triangle) with hand close to inside of footrevolving triangle (parivrtta trikonasana or twisting triangle) with hand outside foot.revolving triangle (parivrtta trikonasana) with bottom hand outside foot.

Parivrtta Trikonasana Body Scanning Check List

While holding the parivrtta trikonasana, you can scan your body as follows:

Front Foot and Leg

  • Activate your front foot (roll shin out so that outer edge of foot presses down, root through base of big toe)
  • activate quadricep, make sure knee is straight
  • use front leg to push pelvis back

Back Foot and Leg

  • activate back foot (as above)
  • activate quadricep, keep knee straight
  • "suck" inwards on front of front hip to pull pelvis back

Pelvis

  • Adjust both legs (but keep their actions) so that pelvis is level from left to right.
  • tilt pelvis forwards (lift sitting bones) so that lower back has a "bending backwards" feeling.

Head and Neck

  • Lift head enough so that head and ribcage are aligned
  • lengthen back of neck so that chest opens
  • look to upper hand

Bottom Hand and Arm

  • Position hand beneath shoulder
  • start with hand inside foot as twist deepens move hand towards foot and then outside of foot
  • spread fingers
  • adjust hand rotation so arm feels "good"

Top Hand and Arm

  • make hand feel alive
  • position arm so that front and back of shoulder are open

Body Weight Distributiion, Foundation and Balance

  1. Adjust upper body so that relative to front foot and bottom hand so that weight is either all on foot, or evenly distributed between foot and hand or all on hand.
  2. Position pelvis so that front leg is balanced (force acts cleanly along bones of front leg). This may or may not be compatible with point 1.

Spine and Ribcage

  • Open ribs (front, sides and back)
  • reach ribs away from pelvis
  • bottom hand ribs reach down
  • top hand ribs reach up
  • turn and twist ribcage

Scanning

Having a body scan list is being a pilot and having a checklist both to make sure that things go right and so that you do everthing possible to save the plane when things go wrong.

For each of the above items you could "scan" your parivrtta trikonasana in time with your breath. So for example,

  • inhale and scan your front foot and then exhale,
  • inhale check your thigh, exhale,
  • Inhale check your back foot and then exhale

etc.

Another method, especially when just learning or practicing, is to spend about 3 seconds on each adjustment. Use longer if you need to but do each adjustment and give yourself time to feel the effects, and then move on to the next one.

This can be especially important when setting parivrtta trikonasana up (ready for take-off)

Say for example you start from a standing position.

  • Even before bending forwards you can practice adjusting both of your feet and thighs. You can then adjust your hips and then even while standing you can practice lengthening your spine.
  • Once you have the feeling of these actions then bend forwards. Place your bottom hand on a block if necessary. Don't even twist yet. Instead focus on adjusting your feet, pelvis and spine while bent forwards.
  • And then add the twist and your arm actions.
  • Then while you are holding the pose, you can focus on going deeper while inhaling and then as you exhale relax. Try to smoothly go deeper and smoothly relax and try to make your breath the same, smoothly inhale and smoothly exhale. Radiate and then relax your awareness with your breath.

Use your awareness to breath life into your pose and then to relax it.

Parivrtta Trikonasana in Three Parts:
Forward bend, Side bend, Twist

When I first wrote about parivrtta trikonasana I thought that one of the most important ideas was that of getting the shoulder of your bottom arm over your foot so that it was then easier to place your hand outside the foot. This was on top of bending forwards and twisting. The end result was a pose in which the chest was moving towards the pelvis. While this resulted in a pravritta trikonasana that wasn't really beautiful, the feeling afterwards was like having been plugged into a battery or wall socket... in a good way.

To experience this for yourself, start with your right leg forwards and your left leg back. Engage your feet and thighs, and as you bend forwards push your pelvis back.

Use your legs to make your pelvis level from left to right. Allow your ribcage to sink down towards your thigh. Focus on relaxing the hamstring of your front leg.

Use blocks under your hands if necessary.

From here, if your arms are bent, straighten them and reach your ribcage and head forwards. Then walk your hands to the right. Try to get your left shoulder over your right foot. Keep pushing your hips back and do try to keep your hips square to the front as well as level from left to right.

Your waist will be bending to the right!

Next, keep the side bend and lift the right side of your ribcage so that you twist and turn your ribcage. Keep the back of your neck long and keep your left shoulder over your foot.

Keep you left hand on the floor and reach your right arm up. See if you can place your left hand on the floor to the outside of your right foot.

To keep your shoulder over your foot you'll probably find that your chest moves towards your pelvis. As a result your abdominals will more than likely be active. This is more than likely what causes an "energized" feeling after doing pravritta trikonasana in this fashion.

If you like you can try keeping your shoulder over your foot and then see if you can bend your spine backwards. If you can't, not too worry, you may find that the following variations of parivrrta trikonasana will help.

Parivrtta Trikonasana as a Balance Pose

Parivrtta Trikonasana a balance pose? Well to balance it helps to be aware of how your center of gravity relates to your foundation. In parivrtta trikonasana you can shift your upper body so that the weight of your upper body (and pelvis) is all on your front hand or all on your front foot or somewhere in between.

Generally, if you have all of your weight on your front foot in pravritta trikonasana you should be able to take your hand off of the floor. And if you have all of your weight on your front hand then you should be able to lift your foot off of the floor.

I said "all of your weight." Obviously, or not so obviously, some of your weight is on your back foot. While doing this "weight shifting" exericse, keep your back foot pressing into the floor.

With your hand to the inside of your foot (use a block if necessary) shift your weight onto your hand. Position your hand so that the bones of your arm support your weight. Then shift your weight onto your foot. When your weight is completely on your hand you may notice that your leg can relax a little or a lot. Likewise when your weight is on your foot you may notice that your arm can relax. Try to move between these two positions smoothly, rhythmically. If you like, you can try lifting your hand when your weight is on your foot and vice versa, lift your foot when your weight is on your hand... even just a little.

The important thing to take from this exercise is the ability to notice how your weight is distributed between your front foot and hand. You can notice if you have weight on your hand or not and you can choose if you want to have weight on your hand or not.

For myself I like to have not weight on my hand but instead use my hand to help twist my ribcage. You might choose to do the same.

With respect to breathing, you may find that as you shift your weight onto your hand it helps if you inhale.

You can then try opening your chest and twisting it more as you do so.

As you shift onto your foot, relax a little and exhale.

Parivrtta Trikonasana Spine Bending Vinyasas

Because revolving triangle can be a little bit uncomfortable you can practice moving in and out of the discomfort. While exhaling you can lower your arm and release the twist. While inhaling you can raise your arm and go into the twist. In addition you can end spinal back bends and forward bends while doing this. While exhaling and lowering your arm bend your lumbar and thoracic spine forwards. While inhaling and raising your arm and twisting bend your lumbar and thoracic spine backwards.

More slowly and smoothly so that you can feel your body (and control it) as you do this.

Parivrtta Trikonasa Front Knee Vinyasa

Yet another option for parivrtta trikonasana is to start with your front knee bent and both hands on the floor. Practice slowly straightening your knee as you inhale and then bend it as you exhale. While inhaling you can reach your arms back. Then, once you are "comfortable" with this action, twist as you straighten your knee. Relax the twist as you bend it.

Rest

After whichever option or version of revolving or twisting triangle that you do, you might find it nice to rest for a few moments before doing the other side or before moving onto the next pose. A rest can be a chance to recover (of course) but it can also be an opportunity to notice the after effects of the pose. You may find that the pain and agony of doing the posture is made worthwhile by the way you feel after.

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