the triangle : trikonasana

the three angles of the triangle add up to a complete 180 in parivritta trikonasana

photo by andrea rollefson

In times like these when I have many projects demanding equal and immediate attention, I sometimes wonder if I can “stand it.” I run into an old attitude of wanting to get things done quickly to get them over with (so I can do what I really want, which is not this). When I have these kinds of thoughts, I know it is time to change my attitude.

I’ve found that parivritta trikonasana can help. It’s a pose where I do “stand it” – stand, bear pressure, and twist to look from a new perspective. The position is complex – extending to the side, stretching up, down and back. All this complexity, however, starts from a strong, balanced, aligned foundation – a base triangle constructed with feet, legs and hips that allows the movement to unfold.

What is this foundation on another level? When I ask myself questions – Who am I? Why am I doing what I am doing? What is the purpose? – I come back to my commitment to spiritual life, to selfless service. I see that all my seemingly different and demanding activities are simply extensions of what is most important to me. Remembering why I am doing the work helps me connect back to the unifying power underlying the many – a still point that radiates power.

As I practise parivritta trikonasana I observe that there is a process holding all the parts together. One step follows another and I can practise this in my work: instead of darting jerkily between one thing and the next, or avoiding and procrastinating, I can let the actions flow from a central knowing, reminding myself that these are not simply tasks to be checked off a list. My tasks are actually a continuing expression of what I most desire – my work is my practice of yoga in action.

Through writing, teaching or doing whatever needs to be done, I take what I know and extend out to others. I also take what I don’t know and enter the unknown to learn. Physically, as I extend in this pose, I am aware of keeping my heart centre open. Symbolically, I recognize the message. If spiritual life isn’t heartfelt and generous, then what good is it? I can stay balanced through good humour and keep the stretch healthy through care and open-mindedness instead of anxiety.

The spiraling, whirling motion of the twist adds spontaneity, reminding me that the unexpected can arise at any moment. Does it tighten the tension or magnify the expansion in me? Doing more in less time is a lesson I learned from my guru. If you think you are overly stressed, add work, change your attitude and look with new vision. Tightening a timeline gives us the chance to let the Divine in, to catch the flow and go with it, instead of trying to control everything. The unexpected can delight and revitalize.

In the Sri Yantra, Divine Mother is depicted as a delicate formation of intersecting triangles. And as I work with parivritta trikonasana, I realize that She is both the foundation that supports me and the same power I reach up to. When I extend and twist to look back, I also see Her. She is the multiplicity of threads and the weaver making it whole.

This reminds me that I, too, have a choice of what I create in my life. I can look at my situation with whatever attitude I invite in. Keeping centred and aligned to my purpose, holding myself lightly, recognizing that I am held in a web of interconnection rather than bearing the weight of the world alone, I become part of the intersecting triangles of life sustaining itself – a little part of a much bigger picture. I relax in the stretch.

how to do parivritta trikonasana : the revolved triangle

Start in the Mountain pose. You can warm up with utthita trikonasana – the triangle facing forward. Get in touch with your foundation and observe the interconnections in the body.

to move into parivritta trikonasana:

  1. Start with legs about a leg-length apart, right foot out at 90 degrees, left foot turned in to about 60 degrees.
  2. Stretch your arms up to feel your centre and lengthen the spine, then extend the arms out to the sides at shoulder height.
  3. Twist the trunk of the body to the right, so you are now looking behind you. Extend out through the right hip as you lower the left hand to the calf or to the floor, keeping length in the spine and the chest open.
  4. Hold for a few breaths, looking up at the upstretched hand.
  5. Inhale, lift the hand and untwist to the front.
  6. Repeat on the other side.


  7. How much pressure can I bear?
  8. How can I maintain balance in a complex situation? Where does balance start for me?
  9. When you move into the twist, observe the new perspective that opens up. Can you look at an issue in your life from a different viewpoint? What options do you have about your attitude?
  10. The triangle brings three points together into a whole. Reflect on dependence, interdependence and interaction.
    Swami Lalitananda's latest book,The Inner Life of Asanas,is a collection of her hidden language hatha yoga columns, from timeless books . She is a resident teacher and part of the collective at radha yoga & eatery - a yoga centre, cafe, arts and events venue at 728 Main Street in Vancouver, BC. Contact her at .

       read more of swami lalitananda's past columns

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