(Trikonasana): Techniques, Benefits, Variations
Triangle Pose Prep & Practice
Beginning in Mountain pose (Tadasana) at the top of the mat. On an exhalation, take a step back with the left foot, hands come to hips. Right toes (front foot) pointed toward the top of the mat, left foot (back foot) parallel to the back edge of the mat or toes slightly turned in. Align heel of front foot with arch of back foot.
Right (front) leg lengthens, thigh rotated externally, grounding through all four corners of front foot. Left (back) leg also lengthens, engaging muscles, grounding through the outside edge of the left (back) foot. Pull up through arches of both feet, lifting quadriceps and knee caps.
Hips are square to the side edge of the mat, low abs firm in and up, knitting front ribs finding length in the front, sides and back of the torso.
Shoulders stacked over hips, hands remaining on hips, on an exhalation begin to come into a side bend with the torso on the right side. Right hand can come to rest on the hip crease, thigh, shin or a block. On an inhalation, left arm sweeps slightly forward and up toward ceiling, spreading fingers wide.
Breath is steady, legs, abdominals and arms energized and engaged, soften tops of shoulders away from ears.
To come out of the pose, on an inhalation torso comes back to upright position, hands to hips. Heal toe left (back) foot in to shorten stance, use the abdominal muscles to mindfully step back to Mountain (Tadasana) at top of mat, prepare for second side.
- Shorten or widen stance
- Practice with back to a wall (balance issues)
- To hand on hip hip (shoulder injury)
- Bottom hand on block
Physical, Mental and Emotional Benefits
- Improves balance and core strength
- Opens the hips
- Tones and balances muscles of the knee, thigh and hip
- Stretches hamstrings, outer hips and ankles
- Stretches and strengthens muscles of the power back and side body
- Relieves stress and calms the mind
- Tight or Injured Low Back
- Hamstring Injury
- Balance Issues (see modifications)
- Shoulder Injury (see modifications)
- Knee or Hip Injury
Try Triangle Pose On The Blog
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A Few Notes
Utthita (pronounced oo tee tah) Trikonasana or extended triangle pose, as it’s otherwise known, is a standing yoga pose that requires you to lengthen, twist and open the body. In yoga classes, teachers can give many different types of alignment cues in order to help people to achieve the triangle pose shape. But most importantly, you want it to feel nice in your body.
Usually starting either at the top of the mat, or from another standing yoga pose such as Warrior 2, step your feet apart, having your right foot forwards and your left foot back, roughly one leg distance apart and keep both legs straight. Ideally, you want to have the back heel at a slight angle turning outwards and toes inwards, as this will help to open up the hip joint and aid in getting the juiciest rotation in your spine.
Keeping both feet grounded, start to reach your arms out wide, parallel to the floor, and reach forwards with your right arm, until you can’t reach any longer from the waist. Then place your right hand onto your leg, ankle, yoga block or the floor, and reach your left arm up towards the ceiling. Try to keep equal weight in both of your feet. Reach out through the finger tips of the left hand, keep your chest open, and turn your head to gaze upwards to your left hand.
If you have neck problems and this doesn’t feel comfortable look out to the side or downwards instead. Press your right hand onto the right foot, or a block, if you can’t reach without bending the knee. Using yoga props in Triangle pose, Utthita Trikonasana, will help you to find length in your spine and give you more stability in the posture, by bringing the floor closer to your hand. Some students with back pain or flat feet, may need to focus on the alignment, with the use of props and specific instructions from a yoga teacher. If you have a heart condition or high or low blood pressure, please speak to your doctor.
With your arms and legs in this position, your hips, torso and chest are now able to open out to the side of your mat. Press into the back heel, allowing your hips to stack on top of each other, which will allow you to lengthen up through your spine and side body and to your chest so you can stack your left shoulder on top of your right shoulder. Aim to have the side of the body that is closest to the floor, parallel to the floor.
In triangle pose, your arms and legs are both straight and engaged to allow for a stretch along your inside leg and hamstrings, creating length and space in the body, building on flexibility, hence the name ‘extended triangle pose’.
Triangle pose is one of many preparatory poses to get you ready to come into balancing postures, or to build upon working the core. You can bring the arms along side your ears, to really work deep into your side core muscles. Holding your torso in this diagonal shape will aid in building strength in your core.
Pairing heart chakra work with sacral chakra work can be extremely nourishing and this beautiful pose does that. Anytime we are opening our heart and our hips at the same time, we also open ourselves up to powerful healing potential.
For the greatest heart-opening benefit, stack the shoulders and collarbones. Think of keeping equal space across the chest and upper back. If you feel the top shoulder dropping towards the mat while holding your pose, elevate the bottom hand to help. You can adjust your block or take your hand higher up your shin or leg.
Trikonasana is an open hip posture in the sense that our hips are facing the long edge of the mat. You will most likely be led into trikonasana from a sequence of other open hip postures such as Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II) or Side Angle (Parsvakonasana). You can also step to a wide-leg stance from Tadasana.
Playing with how far apart your feet are can really change this pose. Start with your feet about one leg’s distance apart. You can always adjust to find what feels good. The front heel will line up with the back arch, with the front toes pointing towards the front of your mat. The back foot can be parallel to the back edge of the mat, or it feels nice if you turn your toes towards the front a little. Both legs will be straight, but be careful to keep the knees from locking. Imagine drawing energy up through the arches of both feet as you power through the legs and into the earth.
Take a big inhale as you visualize lifting your ribs away from your hips and extend the arms out to the sides. Take a little shift of the hips towards the back of the mat as you reach forward. With an exhale, hinge at the pelvis to align the torso with the front leg, moving the arms with you.
No matter how long you hold your triangle pose, try to keep the breath and the face relaxed, as if you were in meditation, channeling that calm energy from your center, even when it may not feel like that!
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