My goal, every time I step on the mat, is to always find space and length in my body. No matter what position or for how long, I work to find the space to breathe. If we have enough room to breathe deeply, in and out through the nose, we will have more room to focus on our alignment, engage our muscles and keep our mind on that mat. And with that, a clearer, calmer sense of self.
To do this, I incorporate props. If fact, the more advanced my practice becomes, the more I use props. Props extend my arms and my legs when one or the other doesn’t reach the ground. They allow me the liberty of fully engaging my muscles, the ability to analyze my alignment and to worry less about pulling my hamstrings or affecting my ever-finicky lower back. Props do not make a pose easier but they do make the poses more assessable for where our bodies are.
The battle in the push for props?
Our ego of course.
Regardless of how our we tread with our physical practice, we always have the “classical” version of the pose in our minds. What we should be able to do as opposed to meeting our bodies where they are at any given day. What we tend to forget is that those classical poses were developed for men, young ones at that, who lived much more physical lives than we do today.
How can we let go of that classical ideal and accept the pose for our very individual bodies?
Pro Tips for Props
Instead of 'support' think of props as a helpful extension of your arms and legs.
1. When available, always take two blocks. If the class is packed, try to at have at least one.
2. Before class starts have your blocks at the front of you mat unless otherwise directed by your instructor. This gives us easy access when we will most likely need them the most.
3. Keep a blanket folded neatly at the side of your mat. You’ll most likely need it for sitting, kneeling or svasana. It also allows for a quick grab during anjanayasana and pigeon pose.
4. Keep a strap or belt handy for those balancing postures where you may need your arms to be a bit longer than they are.
Trikonasana – Triangle Pose
Trikonasana stretches and strengthens the thighs, knees and ankles. It stretches our hips, groins, hamstrings, calves, shoulders, spine and chest.
To say the least, getting the hand to the ground is not the top priority.
Go up on a block, or two bringing the ground closer to you. From there, energize the legs lifting kneecaps and the quadriceps. Move the front hip towards your back heel and lengthen your torso towards the front of your mat. Feel the inner thighs move towards one another, activating the hips and preventing us from collapsing into our joints.
And NO – do not try to “fit your body in between two panes of glass.”
I tend to shy away from the hand on the shin which can lead to hyper extending the knee. With a hand on the block, we’re allowed the space to engage and activate the legs and open the chest, moving into a full version of what this pose is to us.
Next time you are in trikonasana, be curious with bringing the ground a little closer to you by using the block. How does it feel?