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Heart to Heart

Skill in Action: The Mysticism and Meaning in Triangle Pose

Written by SYJ teacher Sarah Huntington


In the ancient Hindu text the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna defines yoga as “skill in action.”

The twisting, stretching, balancing, lengthening, and philosophic dualities contained in parivrtta tirkonasana, aka triangle pose, embody this idea of skill in action.

This deep twisting, heart-opening hamstring stretch speaks to the turning of the mystical number three and the archetypal image of a triangle.

Three is a magic number. In various religions, spiritual traditions, mythologies, and in nature, the triangle thought to be that of awe, wonder, grace, and stability. Perhaps the image of the Great Pyramids comes to mind, the three fates, or the trident in mythology.

Parivritta trikonasana, in the physical shape, is strong, but also seeks to increase flexibility and open the heart to the world. The Trimurti, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva draw us into the careful balance of creation.

Resolution and revolution

This pose is that of resolution and revolution: the triangle a representation of stability and grace, the strength in the legs, the lines of a downward facing triangle with the legs and an upward facing triangle of the arms to represent the dualistic forces and interplay, inner and outer, masculine and feminine energies, dark and light, cold and hot, stillness and movement that help move us to equilibrium and equanimity.

The revolving, the twisting, is that of a reimagining. In the pose the heart revolves, the twist from the torso to encourage us to open to that which might not be readily available at first glance, or first breath.

We are always participating in the cycle of Brahma (creator), Vishnu (preserver), and Shiva (destroyer). This pose reminds us of this participation, of our skill in action.

We observe this tri-cycle, connecting to transformation and change, to resolution and revolution, and this cycle is constant. Shiva does not destroy for annihilation or ending, only to transform. To approach this pose as a transformation of experience to make space to revolve our own hearts open. It offers an asana to access stability and encourages ease.

To hold the foundation of the legs firm and grounded, but to surrender to the fluidity of the upper body. To “wring” out as we twist the metaphoric weights that might be holding us back to participating in the cycle of creation, preservation, and transformation of one moment to the next.

The resolution is not that the pose be perfect, but that we are open to the revolving, the turning, the revolutions and continual transformations of our mind, body, and spirit.

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