The three angles that make up the shape of a triangle make it one of the most stable shapes in nature. In yoga, this posture is comprised of three triangles. The body makes a triangle with the legs and the floor, a second is revealed looking at the top hand and two feet, and the third one is demonstrated under the side of the body with the arm and the front leg.
The triangle is also a visual symbol of many trinities seen in human culture. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit in Catholicism, the trinity of birth, life, and death, and so on.
In yoga, trikonasana (triangle pose) is symbolic of the three gunas(qualities) that make up our bodies and our minds. The three gunas are known as:
- Tamas Guna – inertia or unconsciousness
- Rajas Guna – passion and creativity
- Sattva Guna – lightness and consciousness
The gunas work together to create Maya – our world of illusion that each of us comes to experience through our senses. For example, when we are sluggish and are having difficulty finding motivation, we are in Tamas guna. When we are caught up in a project or excited for a big day, Rajas guna is at play. Sattva guna may be felt after a particularly good yoga practice or yoga Nidra practice when we feel particularly contented.
One of the goals of your yoga practice should be to invite as much Sattva into your life as possible and work to avoid too much Tamas or Rajas. Importantly, Tamas and Rajas cannot be completely eliminated – we wouldn’t want them to be! We need a balance of Tamas to fall asleep and we need some Rajas to keep us motivated. We seek to find balance.
There are many variations of triangle pose. As with every yoga pose, the yogi progresses though many variations and modifications. Keeping a block near you is always a good idea if you are new to poses like triangle. Next time you take trikonasana, reflect on the soil foundation that the posture requires and try to translate this into the solid foundation we require throughout all our life’s activities to feel balanced and live without illusion.