Extended Triangle Pose — Utthita Trikonasana (oo-TEE-tah tree-koh-NAH-suh-nuh) — is a standing yoga pose that tones the legs, reduces stress, and increases stability. The word "Trikonasana" comes from the Sanskrit words "tri," (meaning "three"), "kona"(meaning "angle"), and "asana" (meaning "pose"). It refers to the triangular shape created by your body in the full version of the pose. "Utthita" means "extended" in Sanskrit.
Whatever you do in life, yoga shows you how to do it better.
Benefits of Triangle Pose
A deep stretch for the hamstrings, groins, and hips, Trikonasana also opens the chest and shoulders. It helps relieve lower back pain, stress, and sluggish digestion.
This pose strengthens the muscles in the thighs, hips, and back, while toning the knees and ankles. It also stimulates the organs of the torso, improving metabolism. It is known to be therapeutic for anxiety, flat feet, infertility, osteoporosis, and even sciatica.
More than just a simple stretch, Trikonasana improves overall balance and stability, both physically and mentally. It increases body confidence and courage, creating poise and grace both on and off the mat.
Do not practice Triangle Pose if you have low blood pressure or are experiencing headaches or diarrhea. Those with high blood pressure should turn their heads downward in step 9. Those with neck injuries should not turn their heads to face the top hand (in step 9), but should continue looking straight ahead. Always work within your own range of limits and abilities. If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga.
- Begin standing at the top of your mat with your feet hip-distance apart and your arms at your sides. Begin to pay attention to your breath. Let go of distractions. Breathe softly and fully. Take a moment to tune into your body and draw your awareness inward.
- Step your feet wide apart, about 4 to 5 feet. Check to ensure that your heels are aligned with each other.
- Turn your right foot out 90 degrees so your toes are pointing to the top of the mat. The center of your right knee cap should be aligned with the center of your right ankle.
- Pivot your left foot slightly inwards. Your back toes should be at a 45-degree angle.
- Lift through the arches of your feet, while rooting down through your ankles.
- Raise your arms to the side to shoulder-height, so they're parallel to the floor. Your arms should be aligned directly over your legs. With your palms facing down, reach actively from fingertip to fingertip.
- On an exhalation, reach through your right hand in the same direction as your right foot is pointed. Shift your left hip back so your tailbone and pelvis tilt toward the wall or space behind your left foot. Fold at your right hip. Keep your right ear, shoulder, and knee on the same plane — do not let your torso drop forward. Turn your left palm forward, with your fingertips reaching toward the sky.
- Rest your right hand on your outer shin or ankle. If you are more flexible, place your right fingertips or palm on the floor to the outside of your right shin. You can also place your hand on a block. Align your shoulders so your left shoulder is directly above your right shoulder.
- Gently turn your head to gaze at your right thumb.
- Draw down through the outer edge of your back foot. Extend equally through both sides of your waist. Lengthen your tailbone toward your back heel. Keep your left arm in line with your shoulders.
- Hold for up to one minute. To release, inhale and press firmly through your left heel as you lift your torso. Lower your arms. Turn to the left, reversing the position of your feet, and repeat for the same length of time on the opposite side.
Modifications & Variations
If you'd like to deepen or lighten the pose, try these simple changes to find a variation that works best for you:
- If you feel unsteady in the pose, place your back heel against a wall.
- Brace your back torso against a wall to help improve stability.
- For extra stability, rest your bottom hand on a block.
- More flexible students can align the front heel with the arch of the back foot.
- For a variation that deepens the side stretch, extend your top arm over your top ear, stretching your arm so it comes parallel to the floor.
Practicing Triangle Pose can create symmetry throughout your whole body. Keep the following information in mind when practicing this pose:
- It's more important to keep your front leg straight and your torso aligned with your thigh than to rest your hand on the floor. Only lower your hand as far down as your flexibility permits, even if that means resting it on your thigh.
- Do not rest your lower hand directly on your knee. This creates too much pressure on the knee joint.
Equally Balanced Strength
Triangle Pose can be a building block for balance and grace in all areas of your life. Practicing this pose on a regular basis will bring poise, strength, and equanimity to your everyday routine!