If I had to pick the most complicated asana that’s regularly practiced, Parvrtta Trikonasana would be among the top few. Parvrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle) is a balance pose, a spinal rotation, a forward bend, and even contains an element of backbending.
One of the trickiest things about this pose is that it’s really easy to sacrifice the length of your torso in order to place your hand closer to the floor. Breathing is always more important than forcing your body into the “full expression” of any pose. Make sure that your bottom hand is always high enough up that you can keep both sides of your torso equally long, and that your breathing feels free and relaxed. The poses I describe below, using a wall and a yoga block, can teach you how to maintain spinal integrity in the pose.
While it’s definitely a challenging pose, Parvrtta Trikonasana can be beneficial when you warm up properly and practice with the length of your torso in mind. Here are some of the benefits:
- Helps you develop your balancing ability
- Tones and strengthens the legs
- Mobilizes the thoracic spine
- Stimulates abdominal organs
Because of its complexity, practicing Parvrtta Trikonasana is contraindicated in these cases:
- Injured or compromised neck
- Hamstring injury
- Sacroiliac issues (Any spinal rotation can be hard on the SI joint.)
- Pregnancy (Twists of any kind are contraindicated in the first trimester. After the first trimester, once the abdomen begins to expand, this pose becomes really difficult.)
Preparing for Parvrtta Trikonasana
Many elements must come together in Revolved Triangle. So it’s important to warm up properly for it. When I teach or practice this pose, I make sure that we’ve covered the following types of asana beforehand so that the body is ready:
- Standing poses, such as Trikonasana (Triangle), Parsvottanasana (Pyramid Pose) and Parsvakonasana (Side Angle)
- Hamstring stretches, such as Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend) and Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend)
- Spinal rotations, such as Parvrtta Sukhasana (Revolved Easy Pose) or an upright version of Parvrtta Trikonasana (which I’ll describe below)
So before you attempt Revolved Triangle, practice the above standing poses, hamstring stretches and rotations. Then, try this:
Upright Parvrtta Trikonasana (Without a Forward Bend)
I love this variation for preparing for Revolved Triangle. Because you don’t bend forward in this variation, you can really focus on the rotation. It’s far easier to create the rotation first and then move into the forward bend than it is to try to rotate your torso when you’re already bending forward.
- Place a nonskid yoga mat parallel to a wall.
- Stand with your feet hips-width apart at the front end of your mat with your right side facing the wall.
- Step your left foot straight back 2-3 feet, keeping your feet hips-width apart from side to side, and pointing your left foot mostly forward. It will need to angle outward slightly.
- Plant your left foot. Then begin internally rotating the left leg (toward the wall). Begin at the ankle, then rotate the shin, knee, thighbone, pelvis, and finally, the ribcage. Place your hands on the wall at chest level to facilitate the twist.
- Keep your head in a neutral position, so that you’re looking at the wall.
- Stay upright and breathe into the twist, lengthening your spine as you ground the feet.
- Stay for 5 to 10 deep breaths.
- Rotate your torso back to the center.
- Step your left foot forward and stand in Tadasana, checking in with what you feel. How did the twist change you?
- Now walk to the other end of your mat and stand in Tadasana with your left side facing the wall and repeat the pose.
Practice This Pose Twice (With a Forward Bend)
- Repeat steps 1 through 7, but this time, place a yoga block so that it’s standing on end between your feet before you start. If you find later on that you can lower the block to one of its shorter levels without compromising the length of your torso and your ability to breathe easily, feel free to do this.
- After you’ve done steps 1 through 7, ground your feet and extend left arm out in front of you, extending the entire torso, head to tail, along with it.
- Keep extending outward as you lower your left hand and place it on your block.
- Place your right hand at the wall to stabilize your balance and to facilitate the spinal rotation. Extend your pelvic floor back, away from the head.
- Draw the hip of the right leg back.
- Take 5 to 10 deep breaths here.
- Lift your torso up, unwind the rotation of your ribcage, and step your left leg forward.
- Stand in Tadasana for a moment to check in with how you feel after the pose.
- Repeat on the other side.
Practicing these two poses before trying this in the middle of the room helps prepare your body and teach you a step-by-step method for moving into the pose, without having to worry about your balance.
If you want to try practicing in the center of the room, follow the same steps as above, except, of course, eliminating those that depend on the wall. If your breathing feels relaxed and your torso is long, you can try another variation. Place your block on the outside of your foot as in the above photo.
After practicing Revolved Triangle, be sure to follow with some symmetrical poses such as Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose), Upavista Konasana (Wide-Legged Seated Forward Bend) and/or Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend). Breathe generously into your back body and then follow with a nice, long Savasana.