How to Do the Revolved Triangle (Parivrtta Trikonasana) in Yoga

Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

Revolved Triangle - Parivrtta Trikonasana
Ann Pizer

Also Known As: Revolving Triangle, Triangle Twist

Targets: Shoulders, back, hips, legs

Level: Beginner to intermediate

Benefits

With a combination of deep twisting, hamstring stretching, heart opening, and precarious balance, Revolved Triangle (Parivrtta Trikonasana) is a challenging yoga pose for even experienced practitioners. Once you get the hang of it, though, Reversed Triangle has some excellent benefits that extend beyond your yoga practice into daily life by increasing flexibility and mobility, improving balance and core strength, opening the chest and shoulders, easing pain and other symptoms, and improving focus.

Step-by-Step Instructions

You can enter Revolved Triangle in any number of ways, but Pyramid Pose (Parvsvottonasana) works well because it puts your legs in the right position.

  1. Begin with both legs straight and about three feet apart. Your hips should be squared toward the front of your mat with your left foot stepped forward and your back (right) foot turned out about 45 degrees.
  2. Take a deep breath. With your hands on your hips, hinge your torso forward over your front leg. Keep your spine straight. When you start to feel like your spine wants to round, back off slightly.
  3. Exhale and pause here to decide which position will be most comfortable for your right hand. You can place it directly under your left shoulder, inside your left foot, or outside your left foot.
  4. Inhale. Place your left hand on your sacrum, feeling that it is level.
  5. Exhale. Keep your hand in place as you twist your torso, opening your chest to the left. If your sacrum begins to feel uneven, level it out by drawing your left hip forward and your right hip back.
  6. Inhale as you lift your left hand toward the ceiling. Open your chest and stack your left shoulder over the right (it can help to imagine pressing your left palm into a wall).
  1. Exhale smoothly and gaze up toward your right fingertips.
  2. Hold this position for several deep breaths or up to one minute.
  3. When you're ready, exhale as you untwist and release.
  4. Inhale and repeat on the other side, this time starting with the right food forward.

Common Mistakes

You're Lifting Your Heel

As you're getting a feel for the Revolved Triangle pose, a common mistake you're likely to make is letting your heel come up from the ground. Keeping your feet grounded throughout the movement isn't just about staying focused and mentally centered throughout your yoga practice; it will actually throw off your balance and make it more likely you'll strain or injure yourself.

One of the easiest fixes if you're having this issue is to practice the pose with your heel against a wall.

You're Forcing the Twist

While the fundamental move of the pose is twisting your torso, you may be demanding more than your body is ready for if you experience pain. While some physical factors will limit how far you're able to twist, the pose may also feel easier as your body becomes more conditioned.

Whether you're trying the move for the first time or using it as part of an established yoga practice, it's important that you stay focused and go slowly.

You're Holding Your Breath

In addition to making sure your muscles have the oxygen they need to move and stretch with you, paying attention to your breathing also slows you down (which helps prevent injury) and hones your focus. If you're having a hard time finding your breathing pattern, your yoga instructor can give you awareness exercises to help.

You're Not Keeping Your Head in Alignment

One mistake you might not even realize you're making is letting your head get out of alignment. If you let your head stick out beyond your front leg, it will throw off your balance and can cause back strain. When you're learning proper form, it can be helpful to have a yoga classmate or instructor nearby to provide guidance and feedback.

Modifications and Variations

Need a Modification?

If you're struggling with proper alignment, making sure you're set up for the pose and adding in props can help. In Reversed Triangle, your right fingertips are traditionally in line with your left toes. When you're just getting starting, try placing your right hand slightly in front of the left foot before you try to twist to give your torso more room to move. You can also use a block or small stack of books under your hand for greater stability.

Up for a Challenge?

Many people find mastering Reversed Triangle challenging enough on its own, but if you're looking to deepen the stretch, one of the easiest ways is to change your hand position. Most people find keeping their hand directly under their shoulder to be the most comfortable placement. Instead, try placing your hand on the outside of your forward leg with your forearm pressed against your shin.

Safety and Precautions

Reversed Triangle and other twisting poses can be challenging, so you'll want to check in with your instructor before trying them on your own.

As with any type of physical activity, it's best to check in with your doctor before starting or intensifying a routine. Twisting poses like Reversed Triangle may be unsafe for people with certain conditions, injuries, or those recovering from surgery.

You may want to skip the pose if you:

  • Are pregnant since deep twisting is not recommended during pregnancy
  • Have neck, lower back, or sacroiliac pain
  • Have conditions affecting your spine or back, such as bulging or herniated discs
  • Have recently had surgery or an injury involving your neck or back
  • Have low blood pressure (hypotension)

If you attend a regular yoga class, your instructor may also advise students to avoid Reversed Triangle or other twisting poses when you're experiencing insomnia, headaches or migraines, or gastrointestinal distress. Ask about other poses or modifications that would be beneficial to you.

Try It Out

Reversed Triangle is a challenging yoga pose with many benefits. To get the most out of the pose, try adding it to a yoga sequence with these complementary poses:

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