Lessons from the Mat: Get the Best Arm Stretch Ever with Triangle PoseArticle posted in: Fitness
By: Eliza Darling
An intelligently sequenced yoga practice can mirror our lives on a micro level. It is typical to begin a practice in Child’s Pose or Corpse Pose (Savasana), the sequence progresses and becomes more challenging, demanding strength, discipline and resilience, preparing the yogi for the peak pose, and then unwinds, taking the practitioner back to Savasana, the final resting pose. Littered throughout, the teacher might offer mantras or lessons that can benefit us, even when the spandex is taken off and the mat is rolled up. We learn, absorb, apply and expand as yogis and as people. In essence, yoga mimics life.
As a teacher, I can easily spot an “overachiever” because of their refusal to rest when given the option. Their body could be sweating and shaking from fatigue, but they will not give up on their Down Dog. The perfectionist gets visibly frustrated if they feel like their pose isn’t perfectly executed, focusing on the now, instead of the process it takes to get there. Likewise, those who regularly take the “path of least resistance,” will be more inclined to rest throughout their practice, savoring the peaceful effortlessness of a resting pose. As long as the practitioner is safe in terms of alignment and respect for personal limits, there is no right or wrong way of doing it. It is simply a reflection.
An often over-looked benefit from a well thought-out practice is that it allows us the handheld mirror to reflect on our life. We can observe how we respond to challenging situations, what our mind tell us to do when our body wants to forfeit, how we accept or denounce rest after overexertion, and if we are able to keep a focused and present mind when it is overflowing with obligations and stress. The practice itself doesn’t solve our problems or make us enlightened beings, it is simply the tool we use to look objectively at how we navigate through our journey.
POSE OF THE WEEK: UTTHITA TRIKONASANA (TRIANGLE POSE)
Utthita Trikonasana takes us beyond comfort to a place of expansion and strength. It challenges the practitioner to engage the legs and expand through arms and chest, cultivating evenness in the body
- Stretches and strengthens the thighs, knees and ankles.
- Stretches the hips, groins, hamstrings, calves, shoulders, chest and spine.
- Stimulates the abdominal organs.
- Helps relieve stress.
- Can help improve digestion.
- May relieve backache, especially in the third trimester of pregnancy.
HOW TO DO IT:
- Begin in Downward Facing Dog.
- Lift the right leg up and step the right foot between the hands.
- Spin the back foot flat, parallel to the back edge of the mat.
- Align the front heal with the arch of the back foot.
- Inhale and engage the abdominals, lifting the torso up and reaching the arms out with palms facing down. Point fingers to the front and back of the room.
- Point right toes forward, keeping the front knee stacked over the ankle and pointing towards the second and third toes.
- Keep left leg straight and engaged.
- Draw the frontal ribs in towards one another, move the shoulder blades down the back and lengthen the tailbone towards the floor.
- Create a straight line from one hand to the other.
- Stack shoulders directly over the frontal hips points.
- Straighten the front leg.
- On an exhale breath, hinge forward at the waist and reach forward with the right hand, moving the hips toward the rear of the mat.
- Lower the right hand to the shin, ankle, foot or floor.
- Extend the left arm up towards the ceiling and reach through the finder tips.
- Roll the left hip and shoulder back, tucking the right side of the buttocks under.
- Ground down through the feet and energetically try to move the heels apart.
- Hold for 30 seconds to a minute.
- Bend into the front knee and return to Warrior II by bringing the torso upright and the arms parallel to the mat.
- Repeat on the other side.
TIPS & MODIFICATIONS:
- Avoid bending the back leg and lifting the outer edge of the back foot.
- Rest front hand on a block for a supportive modification.
- Execute the pose with the back against a wall for added support.
*Always consult with your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine.