Deepen Your Yoga Practice: Refining Alignment in Triangle Pose
Triangle Pose, or Trikonasana in Sanskrit, is a regular part of many yoga practices, from Hatha to Iyengar to Anusara and Ashtanga yoga. Whatever style you practice, Trikonasana is a powerful yoga posture that will help to open the chest and shoulders, stretch the spine, strengthen the thighs, and increase flexibility in the hip. With these physical openings, Trikonasana also helps relieve stress and energize the body.
From one yoga style to the next, the general position of triangle pose is the same, although depending on what style you practice, you may be instructed to place your hand in a different location. As with just about every pose in yoga, though, minor adjustments within the posture can make a big difference.
Getting into Trikonasana
- Starting in Mountain pose, inhale and step your right foot about three feet with your foot turned at a 90 degree angle. Your left foot will turn in just slightly. The heel of your right foot should be in line with the arch of your left foot.
- With your arms at shoulder height and parallel to the floor, reach your right fingertips forward.
- Next, exhale and tilt over the right hip to bring your right fingertips to the floor on either side of the right foot or grasp your peace fingers around your big toe. If this is too much for you, you can use a block to shorten the distance you have to reach. If you don’t have a block, your shin works too.
- Open your hips and torso to face straight ahead as the fingertips of your left hand reach toward the sky.
- In Triangle pose, your gaze can be up toward the sky or down towards your toes. Most important is that you don’t feel strain in your neck.
- Hold this for five breaths before rising up on an inhale and repeating on the opposite side.
Refining Alignment in Triangle Pose
Just because you’re in the pose, there’s always more to gain and more ways to open different parts of the body with micro-sized adjustments or even just an energetic shift.
Let’s start with your feet. It’s common in triangle pose to focus all the attention on the front foot and ignore the back one. The pressure should be equal between the two, and as you put weight into the back foot, concentrate on grounding the outer edge of the foot. You should feel a greater lengthening in the left side body from foot to hip.
Moving up the body, engage the muscles of both legs, especially the thighs, but take note that you’re not locking or hyperextending your knees as this can cause injury. This is where the strengthening benefit of the pose comes in.
On to the hips and torso—the parts of the body that benefit the most from this pose. As mentioned earlier, your hips should be facing forward. To get deeper, it may help to focus on bringing the top hip back and the lower hip forward. Think of the top hip and side body as an extension of the leg and foot—one long line continuing to expand all the way to the top of your head.
It’s common in Trikonasana for the lower side body to collapse into the hip. You’ll notice a significant difference if you work to raise the side body (in this case the right side) away from the hip and thigh. While you may not immediately think of the top of the head as connected to the side bodies, energetically draw the top of the head in the direction your toes are pointing and you’ll feel a great expansion along both sides of your body.
Your shoulders should be stacked as your fingertips draw in opposite directions.
Think about your entire body being sandwiched between two panes of glass, that’s the position you’re working towards.
You can even do your own adjustment in triangle pose by using your top hand to grasp your lower ribs and encourage them to move forward and then bring your arm back to straight up.
Don’t worry if your hips and torso don’t go to this position to start. This is what you’re working towards. Most important is to experience the opening in your hips, chest and shoulders and listen to your body.
Liz Rosenblum found her way to the yoga mat as a way to find peace and calm in her crazy former life as a journalist and the days in content marketing. Over the years her practice has focused on an alignment-based style as a way to find relief from chronic hip pain to power yoga to a home practice, but it was Ashtanga where she found her true home and received her RYT-200 at White Orchid in Clearwater, Florida. She is passionate about the power of yoga to heal the mind and body and continues to be amazed that no matter how many times a posture is practiced, one slight adjustment can change it exponentially. She is thankful to have the online yoga community of YogaUOnline as a place to share her passion and learnings with others.