Saturday, October 11, 2008

What I learned from a Triangle

Well, the shoulder-neck thing is getting worse, not better. I did some research and there is a lot of discussion of hip and thigh tightness, stiff necks and weak abdominals, but not much about the trapezius muscle.

Julie Gudmestad has a thorough YJ discussion about Trikonasana and recommends working on scapula placement before folding (she also suggests spending some time in Padangusthasana (Hand-to-Big-Toe)beforehand to open up the hamstrings and hip flexors...maybe that would help your hip soreness, Ivete). She suggests, before folding, extending the arms and rotating the palms of the hands and elbow creases towards the ceiling, which engages the shoulder blades and draws them down--opening the chest. Then turn the palms back over, but keep the elbow crease rotated up.

When I tried this, I noticed the action in the upper back, but the same old pain started after about a minute. It is very interesting how spending serious time in a pose can be so instructive. I knew I had tightness, but I was surprised at how insistent it is. Luckily, I have a student who is a masseuse and I think we're going to work out some sort of trade of services (score!).

As far as modifications go, I did a couple Triangles with a chair, that would be helpful for people with tight hips, who can't fold as sharply at the pelvis. My upper arm did start to fall asleep during the long hold, which is probably due to the changed angle of arm to torso. Neck was the same.

I also tried with my back heel against the wall, which helps stabilize the back leg. It also reminds you to keep your back thigh rolled out and your hips square. I like this for students who have trouble keeping the pose narrow. Doing Triangle against the wall serves the same purpose.

Sooo, what did everybody else discover? Is it still your favorite pose? Do you have some tightness lurking? Any suggestions for my neck?

Next week: my personal fave (at least until now) Adho Mukha Svanasana...Downward-facing Dog!


Ivete said...

Thank you for the tips, Brenda. They help a lot!

Jenn said...

I flunked our first assignment. I usually LOVE Triangle and was all set to participate, but the issue with my sciatica has me so frustrated I didn't do much more than come into the pose a couple times each side to observe for 60-90 seconds a couple times over the past couple of days. Much more than that on the left side and my sciatic issue starts to cause cramping in my hamstring and I've learn NOT to ignore the signs or I pay the next day.

Down-dog is doable. It seems symmetrical poses work better for me right now than anything one sided. Especially those that allow me to focus on widening the back of my pelvis. (Duh!) This week I'll try to do better :)

Jenn said...

PS In regards to your neck, I'm interested, is the pain occuring only when you skyward in the "traditional" gaze?

Are there other asanas that when held cause the same type of neck discomfort?

If you've got focused extension throughout the pose, is there anything wrong with refocusing your gaze for a few breaths (like down toward your foot instead of up towards the sky) and see if that release is enough for you to then re-rotate?

How about doing some specific neck/upper back warming moves before entering into triangle as we normally do for the hips and hams?

I don't specifically need a response I guess...just some questions I would work through myself in a similar situation.

Yogi Barrett said...

Just stumbled on your blog - loving it! Going to jump on the band wagon and do a triangle focused practice today.

One thing that I thought of - I don't do a lot of Forrest yoga, but I have studied several times with Ana Forrest. Once, i did an 11 day intensive with her (2 hrs. every morning here in Boston). She has you hang your head a lot to stretch the side scalene muscles. Shiva Rea also has a variation in triangle where you hang the head over to the side.

I have a mild amount of chronic neck stiffness, and after 11 days of this intensive practice, I noticed my neck was much happier. I now teach occasional neck/upper back yoga workshops, and offer these options to explore in the workshop. Students seem to like them.

Brenda P. said...

Jenn--the problem is really in my upper back between the shoulder blades. This has been an area of much knotting and lumping throughout my adult life, depending on my activities. The nights it was worst in Triangle, were actually evenings after I taught, so I wonder if it was already tight from class.

I did do Garudasana arms to try and open up the area a bit.

The baby is now walking, so hopefully I can start the long process of release. You are right that I need to be careful not to overdo it.

Yogi Barrett--thanks for the idea. I did a session with Ana Forrest at a YJ conference and I had forgotten about the way she had you baby your neck. Maybe it will help...

Anne-Marie said...

Trikonasana for five minutes? Ha ha ha ha ...

Trikonasana is one of my favourite poses [the other being vrkasana] and everyone in my entire class loves it, but it's certainly more challenging than it looks. Especially when you're trying to hold it for a while.

I have to turn my neck slowly to look up at my top hand, but once I'm there, I'm fine. For me, the issue is in my legs.

Two things: I haven't been practising yoga regularly for long so unsurprisingly my hamstrings are tight. They definitely pull during trikonasana, especially the front leg, although not to the point of pain.

Secondly, my knees. Does any one else have weak knees? My front knee feels like it's going to split open in trikonasana. My yoga teacher has given me the excellent suggestion of drawing up my kneecaps to keep them steady - which helps. But I'm still very much aware of my knees during trikonasana.

Nice blog, Brenda. I think I'm going to learn a lot!

Rangimarie [peace],