Many years ago I was in a workshop with Rodney Yee, and one of the students asked, "Rodney, can you tell me the right way to do trikonasana? It seems that in every class I take the teacher says something different, and I'm no longer sure of the correct way to practice." I was expecting him to lead us into an exploration of the most skillful way to practice, but instead he asked her to show him one way to practice trikonasana and then to tell him the benefits of practicing it that way. And then he asked for another example, and again asked about the benefits of practicing that way. The point he was making was that there isn't a right or wrong way to practice trikonasana or any other pose for that matter... but different choices within each posture would have pros and cons. This was eye opening for me at the time, because I, like most new yoga students, assumed that yoga postures were handed down from the Yoga Gods and that there was a right way to practice them in order to derive the most benefit on a physical and energetic level. However, what he said made total sense and I loved learning a point of view on the subject that seemed so non-dogmatic. In this post, we'll look at the Iyengar and Satchidananda versions of trikonasana and explore the benefits, challenges and considerations of each.
In Pincha Mayurasana ("feathered peacock", aka forearm stand), it is common for teachers to instruct new students to place a strap around the elbows and a block between the hands in order to keep the elbows from sliding wider than shoulder-width and the hands from sliding toward each other (see image, right). However, this set-up significantly reduces the range of motion of the shoulders and necessarily forces more of a backbend into the posture, even for more advanced students. This is all fine and good provided that the student has developed enough flexibility in their thoracic spine and the ability to stabilize their lumbar spine (by contracting the pelvic floor and the transversus abdominis). However, allowing the arms to turn inward slightly, which is a very natural action from a biomechanical perspective, will decrease stress at the shoulder joints, increase range of motion at the shoulder joints, and enable the posture to be more vertical with less backbend. Check out the video below for more of an explanation, as well as a demonstration from one of the ASFYT-3 classes.