ARE WE KNOWIN’ WHERE WE’RE GOIN’ WITH BIKRAM TRIANGLE?

Well we know where we’re goin’
But we don’t know where we’ve been
And we know what we’re knowin’
But we can’t say what we’ve seen
And we’re not little children
And we know what we want
And the future is certain
Give us time to work it out…

I ask you: If Bikram Triangle is not practiced as #9 posture in a heated room under the guidance of a qualified Bikram Yoga instructor is it a Bikram Triangle..? 😉 (mmmmm, just some mulling material)

Bikram Trikonasana needs right set up and alignment combined with right amount of stretch effort and strength and sometimes, when you are new to it, stamina.  There is SO MUCH going on in Bikram Triangle is it any wonder that after 20 years I am still ‘discovering’ detail about this posture in my own practice body.  Without a doubt it is a warrior pose (you can see the sneaky little Warrior II in the set up (the only obvious difference being the direction of head/face/turn). Of course depending on the school of Yoga teaching Warrior II there is still debate over whether the extending/long leg pelvis should roll in or try to ‘open out’ but that is for those other schools to thrash out ~ In Bikram WE KNOW where we’ve been AND where we are at with Bikram Triangle. And yes it is different from mat to mat, class to class.

THE WAYS OF ASANA ARE ENDLESS
Some postures may look alike but vary in a dozen subtle ways.  With Trikonasana THE MAJOR DIFFERENT SCHOOLS OF Yoga teach theirs differently to a point where it would seem they are totally different postures all with the same name! This would be enough to flummox a mensa member! They are distinguished from each other by stance, base design, pelvis positioning, direction of reach.  All with particular attentions paid to alignment, action, direction and some reaching their end design via step by step instructions e.g. Bikram, Iyengar, Ghosh, other approaches are more open to interpretation or a bit more relaxed in approach. Some use bandha or drishti, some don’t. Some more focused towards meditation in achieving end, some not.  ALL ARE VALID.  If you are drawn to and want training in a particular school’s Trikonasana you really should be in attendance in a class where the instructor is trained in that method; there are so many nuances that only a properly trained in method from specific school, experienced teacher will be able to guide you on them.

Often we get ‘new to Bikram’ ‘coming from other schools’ Yogis and some of them struggle a bit to hear all the detail instruction in their first Bikram class; in that regard they are no different to our complete first time Yogis. These other school Yogis have previous experience.  Mostly it is useful and relevant {it is all Yoga folks!} but sometimes it gets in their way a little; they see a shape evolving that seems familiar and they get it confused with, say, Iyengar Extended Triangle or Sivananda Triangle or Ashtanga Extended Side Angle, postures where yogis rest their palm on their ankle, foot or floor and reach differently and, in their confusion, ‘new to Bikram not new to Yogasana’ student creates a mash up of Bikram and one of these other postures. NO BIGGIE !! We always recognise this straight away when it happens.  It really doesn’t matter; it is just a transitory state for most (although some take longer to ‘let go’ of a more familiar method); We will guide them and there is ALWAYS time to work it out.

BIKRAM TRIANGLE: A ‘GEOMETRICAL’ POSTURE IF EVER THERE WAS ONE is certainly distinctive, PARTICULAR TO BIKRAM method, well engineered and constructed.  Normal body geometry and limitations will dictate that the instructions when applied to your body will have a different visual effect.  Ultimately you want to be able to hold it with ease so you work hard in it to eventually remove the ‘struggle’ from achieving it.

There are so many things that could go ‘wrong’ with Bikram Triangle; angled shins, incorrect foot alignment and positioning, soft knees, foot slide, shoulder softens, hips lifting, hips sinking!, collapsing forward, excessive leaning back, lunging, leaning, weight on elbows/hands… wrists, fingers, toes, ribs, chin, all have a part to play in the final expression of Bikram Triangle posture; THIS IS WHY YOU COME TO BIKRAM YOGA CLASS FOLKS!  BUT these are just the mechanics; there is something else, I can’t explain it; IT IS A BALANCE TO BE ACHIEVED BETWEEN ACTIVITY, RESISTANCE AND EASE. The right environment and proper instruction can help with this.  Books are great, a personal/home practice is lovely and desirable (it takes discipline to continuously practice this Yoga solo) but for many A LIVE INSTRUCTOR is ESSENTIAL to help keep up spirits when one feels a little sluggish, to offer reminders of why you do this Yoga (in the tough moments) and provide encouragement to take the step out of the comfort zone.  THIS IS WHY YOU COME TO BIKRAM YOGA CLASS FOLKS! (ooops did I just repeat myself 😉 )

ELBOW GREASE IS THE BEST POLISH! Let us just home in on one tiny part of the body and its position in Bikram Trikonasana. Let us take THE ELBOW and the ‘elbow against the knee’ instruction for instance… Remember there are 2 bones in the forearm; the radius which is broader at the wrist and the ulna which is broader at the elbow (ulna being the one you can feel at the elbow point). Press that against your knee. If you lose the contact here you will likely lose your balance.  Soften your elbow = lose the stability. Slacken the upper part of the downward stretching arm, you’ll probably fall forward.   Just set your arms in strong lines and windmill them into position simultaneously, continuously stretch both and if you have set up well and are able to maintain; you will be in perfect form Bikram Triangle arms.  If you have not energised your arms before your start and then windmill ‘soft’ arms/elbows you are likely to ‘rest’ or lean too much on your elbow against the knee and the arms are likely to feel heavy and draw too much of your focus.  PHEW! and this is just focussing in on ONE little point in the body in this asana!

BIKRAM TRIANGLE REALLY SHOULD NOT BE PRACTICED IN ISOLATION from the ‘whole’ sequence and Bikram considers this one of the most important postures in his method.  The ‘order of events’ in a Bikram class are not random; there is definitely intelligent design at play here.  We have already been warming up our connective tissue, articulating our joints and limbering up our spine for EIGHT postures in preparation to make our best expression of Bikram Triangle posture today. IT IS WHAT IT IS in the moment not just because of what you do now but ALSO because of all that came before it.  The energy will be different because of this order of events; You make a move and then create an energy ‘force’, {perhaps read this link: Lines of Energy} for want of a better word, to refine and maintain.  Sometimes the moves are easy but the energy force can be hard to generate when you are new to keep everything in place (or if you like, stop collapsing!).

Beginners might get themselves in a little pickle over the breath sometimes because their body just isn’t open and ready so they have to go through a process; is the pickle the process?? Ultimately the breath will enhance this pose but overthinking it at the outset might just make it a total pickle!!!  Sometimes you have to work this out for yourself so yes the ‘pickle state’ can be part of the process. YOUR experiential wisdom WILL take over.  We will allow you and You will naturally, modify depth A LOT to make the postures MORE ACCESSIBLE.  YOU WILL tease your posture out of yourself over time. It is just a little matter of discipline and repetition to generate energy and vitality.

THE EVOLVING TRIANGLE
In Bikram we DO dwell A LOT on the mechanics of EVERY pose. We repeat repeat repeat because WE WANT TO GET IT RIGHT. We KNOW that individuals’ awareness and understanding of our instructions vary enormously. We know that newer practitioners are not ready to single out or home in on detail in an instruction.  We can never instruct a ‘universal’ experience per class {although undoubtedly because the dynamic is different EVERY class there will be those classes where there can be remarkable whole group demonstrations of Triangle (or other Asana) which the teacher cannot help but comment on 🙂 }

ONLY a dedicated Bikram method qualified experienced teacher will recognize the effort and the emerging visual as part of the Bikram process and honour, serve and protect the intention of a Bikram method posture and take you the practitioner through the journey of the ‘noticing of physical sensations’ that may occur with the different stages of Bikram Triangle until you know how to practice it for yourself. A Bikram teacher taking you through the proper alignment, proper weight distribution, proper breathing to optimal efficiency of body use and ease in posture.

YOU need to make sure you are in the right room folks to hear the ENABLING language: It ALLOWS for ‘doing whatever you need to do’ at the outset of practice AND for ‘freedom to experiment’ as you start to expand and mature in practice.  As you develop awareness and your body mind connection you may not need my continual ‘detailed’ guidance as much as you start to teach yourself. You will be able to process and organise my instructions efficiently and effect those that are most relevant to you right now. You will have LOADS OF TIME to become more introspective; you will still have awareness of the external stimuli but will be tuning into the micro moves and tiny details, making those subtle change/moves in your space where your energy moves more freely and for that blissful moment ALL IS FREE. The working of the legs, the extension/lengthening of the spine, the opening of the chest, the freeing of the breath, the twisting/massaging of internal organs of the trunk. No rigidity; ALL FREE AND EASY. It is a beautiful thing as your practice evolves and Triangle is no longer about just trying not to fall forward.

THE EMERGING TRIANGLE
“Let me ‘splain. No! zere es too much! LET ME SUM UP!” ~ Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride

MY BIKRAM TRIANGLE IS NOT RIGIDLY SET IN STONE ~ A new one emerges EVERY time I take that wide step on my mat. To me this means YOUR BIKRAM TRIANGLE IS NOT STATIC.  I isolate this one posture where everything is active and expand on it here to communicate many of the most basic ideas in the whole Bikram Yoga sequence.

I ask you: Is Bikram Triangle a feeling, a state of mind or just something precise? a ‘road to nowhere or a path to paradise’ 🙂 ? 

Is it a MOVING BEYOND emotional resistance to the posture and the environment it is in?  In our sacred space we have been witness to SO MANY OF YOU survive and work through the many eras of Bikram Triangle as a ‘can’t’, a ‘shape that someone else does better than you’, a ‘heavy’, a ‘dread’, a ‘tough’, a ‘struggle’, a ‘challenge’, an ‘achievement’, an ‘energiser’, a ‘deep stability’ an ‘EPIC indomitable lightness’, a ‘JOY’, a ‘softening’. 

WHAT NEXT? At YM time is on your side; EXPLORE this great way to live for yourself. Perhaps it is a finale that is free full easy breath and a SURRENDERING to the posture. Perhaps it is like you have just begun a new beginning. Perhaps?

Om Om Om YM invites you on a Journey ~ Destination: Surrender and Begin Again. Perhaps.

There’s a city in my mind
Come along and take that ride
And it’s all right, baby it’s all right
It seems very far away
But it’s growin’ day by day
And it’s all right, baby it’s all right
Would you like to come along
You can help me sing this song
And it’s all right, baby it’s all right…

Comments 2

  1. Rob Panelli

    Trish only YOU could have so much to say about a triangle.
    Lots to think about now in next class.

    You have asked before and yes is definitely best pose in the series ! X

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