First, my main focus in all of my postures is that I have an internal feeling of freedom and lightness. This is both a physical feeling and mental one. I tend to let my body adjust itself from there.
But when you are newer to yoga sometimes you have to focus on specific parts and narrow your focus of attention. Over time the skill is in narrowing and broadening and being able to shift and integrate and come to some point of non-thinking mindfulness. I still work at that.
But back to the topic at hand, which are just some thoughts on the relationship between what you do with your pelvis and how that affects movement at the hip and what you see at the thigh in a pose like trikonasana.
I made a video as that is the best way to explain. Have a look and then I have written some commentary below.
I set my front foot up along an imaginary mat so that the outer edge of the front foot is parallel to the outer edge of that imaginary mat. My back foot ends up toe down then heel down (mindful and slow movement) so that an imaginary line (lots of those going on in yoga and you get the sense of how yoga can train your sense of position in space when you consider all of the internal imagining and feeling that is going on) exists from the front heel towards the heel or back half of the back foot. My foot is at an angle. Other people do different things with their feet. I try to figure out where my knee feels comfortable.
With my front heel set like that I can try to grip the heel inwards. That contributes to a feeling that the thigh rolls out. You will feel some firmness around the outer hip joint.
|Front thigh rolling out. Knee looks more like it is pointing towards outer edge of foot.|
This rolling out is what I wanted to focus on in this post. There is obviously a lot more going on in trikonasana.
If you know what you are doing you can actively just think about rolling your thigh out and it will happen. I show this a few times in the video how I can roll the thigh out or let it roll back in.
|The front thigh rolling in, with knee more over the inner edge of foot. I avoid this in trikonasana.|
Ultimately, the thigh bone sort of makes an imaginary line that is going more on the outer side of my foot rather than on the inner edge.
Relationship of moving back pelvis to what happens in front hip joint complex
In the video I move my hand to touch the front of back pelvis. Then I start to move that back, as many people do in an effort to get their pelvis pointing to the side.
You can see what happens to my front thigh if I do that though. I rolled my pants up so you can see clearly what happens and where the knee starts to point.
|What happens to front thigh when I try to take back pelvis back. This is what I avoid in trikonasana.|
Most people will also start to feel some stretch along the inner thigh as well.
The act of moving the pelvis back is going to have an impact on what happens at the hip joint.
In this case you start to get thigh rolling in at the front hip rather than the rolling out that we are looking for.
So what I say is don't worry about where you think your pelvis should be facing.
Most people will ultimately have their pelvis in more of a diagonal facing position--how diagonal is up to your own body.
|Front thigh rolling out. Back pelvis comes around. Pelvis neither pointing straight to front nor directly to side. It is in a happy place in between.|
I tend to instruct bringing the pelvis around a little so that you can get good activation in the front hip joint complex and so you do not feel the sensation of stretch in the front inner thigh.
Roll your back thigh in.
Then, activate your legs by stretching the ground with your feet (trying to push the feet down and away from one another).
Feel that your lower back is free. Feel that you are firm but calm.
You could stay there or you could start to move actively from your spine to turn towards the sky. I turn while lengthening and not squashing the spine.
I reach my fingers as far away from the centre of my chest as possible.
Inside I am singing and smiling and feeling like I am doing something but happy and calm and free.
This is how I practice. This is how I try to help you feel in class.
Join us for Canberra Outdoor Yoga classes each week of join me for retreats in Sri Lanka where I teach principles of active movement, free spinal movement, and generally helping your body sing from the inside so you move happier and healthier.
Do not do anything that hurts. Remember, these posts are mainly intended for my students as practice notes. It is best to learn from an actual teacher and not from the internet.