I have been practising Bikram Yoga for two months. I find most of the 26 poses relatively challenging, but the one I struggle with the most is Trikonasana (Triangle Pose). I quite frequently injure my groin to the point where I no longer even attempt it. Can you please provide some advice to help me overcome this mental and physical hurdle? Candice Aiken, Aubin Grove, WA
Bikram’s Trikonasana is a High Lunge, similar to the Warrior poses of other yoga styles. One leg is straight, while the other is bent at a 90-degree angle; one arm is stretched towards the toes of the bent leg, with the elbow pressing against the knee, while the other arm stretches toward the sky. It gets its name from the triangle shape formed between the chest and thigh, and another triangle created by the entire body. It is also known as “the master posture”, as it uses almost every muscle in the body simultaneously. An extremely challenging pose, it gives benefits proportional to the effort, so don’t throw in the towel just yet!
When we frequently injure ourselves in a posture it is usually due to the way we are practising it, or an underlying problem in the body. Firstly, if the pose is not performed correctly, the muscles of the groin can end up taking all of the weight from the pose. Check if you could improve any of these pointers, asking your instructor to help you:
- Check that your heels are in one line.
- Push your hips forward so that from the side your whole body is in one straight line. It is a common mistake to stick the buttocks out behind you and lean the upper body forwards.
- Try to sit down low enough so that the hamstring muscles of the bent leg are parallel to the floor, no lower.
- Stretch up with your torso to form a triangle between the chest and thigh, rather than sinking into your fingertips and resting your weight on the floor.
Contributing issues in the body may include muscular weakness, medical problems or electrolyte imbalances. Weakness of the involved muscles could be improved by practising squats regularly for 2-4 weeks. Less likely, there could be a medical problem such as a hernia, in which case you would notice a lump in the groin. Finally, regularly replacing the electrolytes that you sweat out in Bikram Yoga helps with muscular healing and contraction. Try increasing your dietary intake of electrolytes or taking magnesium, calcium and potassium supplements.
Jana Zurawlenko is a Bikram Yoga teacher and soon-to-be medical graduate. She teaches privately in Sydney and runs classes and workshops, including those focused on the medical benefits of yoga, at Pure Bikram Hot Yoga in Bondi Junction. Visit www.purebikram.com.au.