What is Trivikramasana?
Known as the standing split pose, Trivikramasana is an advanced split that stretches the body, improves flexibility, mobility and balance. According to ancient scriptures and Hindu mythology, Trivikramsana is known to be Lord Shiva's terrific dance pose. It energizes the body, strengthens the muscles and improves hamstring flexibility greatly.
Position type: Split
Posture type: Standing balancing
Ideal for: Flexibility and mobility
Targets: Hips and spine
Pose level: Advanced
How to prepare for Trivikramasana?
Being an advanced posture, it may take some time to achieve this effortlessly. Spend time doing preparatory poses as they will warm-up the body and open up tight areas, relieving stiffness and helping prevent injuries when doing the posture.
Hip opening postures such as the Bound Angle Pose, Garland Pose, Low Lunge and High Lunge, the Happy Baby Pose, Side Angle Pose and Trikonasana are helpful. You can also practice Reclined Bound Angle Pose, Downward-Facing Dog Pose, and Reclined Hand-to-big-toe Pose. Hip stretches such as cradling the baby pose and a dynamic movement in the Wide-legged Seated Forward Bend will also help open up the hips.
Back strength and flexibility
Back flexibility is also beneficial for Trivikramasana. Practice Seated Forward Bend, Wide-legged Seated Forward Bend, Camel Pose, Cobra Pose and Locust Pose will work on the strength and flexibility of the back. Bow Pose and Upward Facing Dog Pose are also good to practice. Lateral bends such as Gate Pose and Seated side Bend will also help here.
Practice shoulder opening stretches such as Cow-face pose, Thread-the-needle and Puppy pose. Other stretches such as dynamic movement of the hands back and forth with a strap, pushing the hands against a wall or window are also helpful.
How to do Trivikramasana
Getting into the posture
- Stand firmly on both legs. Ensure that the entire body is straight and feet are about shoulder-width apart.
- Turn the right foot outwards and keep the left toes at a 45 degree angle.
- Slowly raise the right leg upward and then raise the left hand and grab the right foot. Hold the right heel firmly.
- Ensure that the right calf is near the right ear. Now, slowly widen the elbows. Ensure you keep the body straight and stay balanced on the left leg.
- Stretch your right arm pointing towards the ceiling, such that your palm is facing towards the front. Now roll your external upper left arm towards your face. Reach overhead and bring your arm close to your left ear.
- Press the left foot onto the mat. Stretch your neck and spine such that your neck is in line with your spine. Move your gaze towards your left arm. Move ribcage to face the ceiling.
- Stay in this position for about 10 seconds or as long as you can.
Getting out of the posture
- Slowly release the right heel and bring the leg back down.
- Now, repeat the same with the left leg.
Key alignments in Trivikramasana
- Ensure you keep your gaze on the arm that is outstretched (or not holding the leg). Follow this direction to move your chest outwards to face the ceiling. This will ensure your shoulders don’t fold in and your chest is not getting compressed.
- Keep the leg that is on the mat straight and pressed into the mat to maintain a stable foundation.
What are the benefits of Trivikramasana?
The standing split pose stretches the side of the body, hamstrings and inner thighs. It improves spinal flexibility, hip mobility, balance and coordination. It stretches the entire legs, ankles, shoulders, waist, spine and groin region. It opens up the chest and lungs. It’s also therapeutic in providing relief from constipation, PMS symptoms, sciatica and lower back pain.
What are the contraindications of Trivikramasana?
Anyone suffering from insomnia, low or high blood pressure, headaches and back pain should avoid the pose. One must avoid looking at the outstretched arm if there is a neck problem. Instead, you can look down or straight.
What are the counterposes for Trivikramasana?
Follow-up Trivikramasana with postures that relieve any stiffness in the back or hip region. You can practice counterposes such as the Locust pose, Cobra pose, Child’s pose or Downward-facing Dog pose after Trivikramasana.
Variations of Trivikramasana
With wall support
Instead of outstretching one arm (the arm that is not holding the foot of the raised leg), you can place this arm on the wall. This will help you stay balanced. As you gain practice, you can begin to move the arm away from the wall.
Leg swinging movement
Start by standing about arm’s length away from the wall. The the right hand flat on the wall with the arm at shoulder level, while the left hand is on the waist. Keep the left leg straight and grounded. Do a swinging/ kicking movement with the right leg. As the leg goes back, allow the torso to lean forwards. As the leg kicks forward, lean back. The foot does not touch the floor in this movement. Keep repeating this several times. Do this for both legs. It will improve the hip tilting movement, hip flexion and extension.
Advice for beginners
Don’t skip your warm-ups when trying this posture. For those with limited hamstring extension and internal shoulder rotation, you can hold the right big toe and focus on extending the right leg sideways, while maintaining the left leg straight. Keep the left arm extended or hold the waist. Take wall support if it helps. The benefits will be the same in this variation.
- This is an advanced posture, so learn how to do this under the guidance of a qualified and experienced yoga teacher. Once you have some practice and confidence, you can try this on your own too.
- Be aware of sensations in the hips, thighs and back. Do not apply force of any kind and if you experience pain, immediately release and shake the legs a little. Try again if you are comfortable.