Because with hip things and arm things, it’s complicated enough to warrant a post of its own.
While I’ve grown past revolved half moon being a pose I love to hate, revolved triangle (parivrtta trikonasana) still retains that distinctive title. There are a number of reasons for this, namely:
- There’s a balance element to the pose that sometimes instructors forget to mention.
- There’s some stretch in the hamstrings, as well as the front outer hip, to work with.
- There’s also a spinal twisting element, which sometimes gets mischaracterized as “where do you put your bottom hand?”
- All of these different motions and sensations are happening at the same time, which can be overwhelming and frustrating.
Breaking down the posture into different elements (these are the divisions that work for me) can help sort through all the things that are happening here. The following are suggestions that I’ve seen or heard recommended — with the understanding that not every suggestion is right for every body.
- Shortening the stance — shorter than one might use for triangle or even warrior I — can help, especially when getting used to the pose. A lot of times, I like to enter the pose from pyramid (as the Get Exercised video below shows) because my pyramid stance generally matches my revolved triangle stance. (And if you’re having trouble with balance in pyramid, it can be worth it to just work in pyramid for a while before adding in the spinal rotation.)
- For some people, it can also be helpful to widen the stance. I tend to have wider hips than most people I see doing this pose, and it definitely helps me to make sure that the center of each foot is as wide as that side’s hip point. With the front foot, that’s pointing straight forward. With the back, however, it means that my feet might not quite get to heel-to-heel alignment (or they do if you tilt your head to the side and squint just right). Ultimately, I prefer moving my feet a little to accommodate what works for the rest of my body — and then not falling over sideways! — to feeling like I’m walking a tightrope just to feel like I’m “doing it right.”
- Speaking of feet, it can help to experiment with the angle of the back foot. I’ve heard different teachers recommend that the back foot be anywhere from 90 degrees (perpendicular to the front) to 60 to 45 to 30 to “almost parallel” with the front. I get more freedom of movement in my hips (and therefore more ability to balance my torso over my legs) when the angle is on the smaller side (45 degrees or less), but my hips =/= everyone’s hips.
Legs and Hips:
- The stance-shortening thing can work double duty here. In other words, if the hamstring sensation is too intense to reach the ground (or block) with the font hand, shortening the stance can relieve that.
- Pressing down into the feet can increase the hamstring stretch (and, bonus, help stabilize the pose).
- In order to check and/or ensure that the hips are level, it can help to place the top palm on the sacrum to feel and adjust from there.
- While I’m twisting, I like to place my top thumb in that leg’s hip crease and actually pull back (gently: I’m guiding but I’m actively guiding) to keep both hips level. Now, once my rotation is more or less completed, I can remove my thumb. However, especially when I was getting used to the feeling of drawing my font outer hip back, it helped to keep my thumb there the whole time I was in the pose.
Before I even get into the numbered list with this, I think it’s worth mentioning: The amount of spinal rotation can increase with deepening hand positions; however, there’s not always a one-to-one correlation. While there is sometimes the temptation to look like I’m going deeper into a pose, I have to remember that it’s not worth it if it’s impeding rather than aiding the action of my spine.
- Placing a the bottom hand on a block can help create spinal length, particularly if the hamstrings or low back are tighter or if one’s legs are longer (especially compared to arms and torso, since then one might be reaching down a proportionally longer distance).
- Keeping the bottom hand on the inside edge of the front foot instead of on the outside edge of it can also facilitate the spinal rotation. For instance, my hips are wide enough that no matter how much I’m rotating my spine, reaching outside my front hip requires me to round my upper back in a way that does not help the stretch. Again, it’s a matter of my upper body reaching across a proportionally greater distance.
- Also, totally fine to do something with that top arm other than stick it up in the air (which can cause some people neck strain). Previously mentioned alternatives include guiding the hips by placing the palm on the sacrum or the thumb in the front hip crease. Another option involves draping the arm across the back, possibly resting on or binding with the back thigh. This last one is an option I like when my spine is bendy but my neck and shoulder are not feeling the arm up vibe.
Or, you can use a wall to deepen the twist as shown in this video:
[Video by Dina Prioste of Get Exercised, via YouTube.]
I think I’m nearly done with the analysis suggestions from this post, so if you have more poses you love to hate, I’d love to read them!