HOW TO PRACTICE Triangle Pose IN YOGA (Utthita Trikonasana)
Benefits, How to Instructions, Modifications, and Common Alignment Mistakes for Triangle Pose
Triangle Pose (Sanskrit name: Utthita Trikonasana) is a staple in most yoga styles, from Hatha to Iyengar to Anusara, Ashtanga and beyond. Triangle is a powerful yoga pose that creates expansion in the chest and shoulders. At the same time, it stretches and strengthens the lateral line, the thighs, hips, and back. In other words, when practiced with healthy yoga alignment, Triangle Pose engages the entire body.
Trikonasana energizes the body, inviting us to ground and expand simultaneously. In Trikonasana, we root deeply into the earth and align ourselves in a way that creates a conduit for radiating our energy from the spine into the abdomen and chest, head, tailbone, arms and legs. Imagine the shape of a starfish, with the movement of breath facilitating expansion from our center outward in all directions.
Benefits of Triangle Pose
Triangle Pose requires the active participation of the whole body. It will strengthen your connection with the ground, providing an opportunity to tone your legs and outer hips.
Trikonasana is also a great core-strengthening yoga pose. The stabilizing core muscles in the abdomen and lower back must be engaged in order to maintain the correct balance of the spinal curves and to create an inner foundation of stability.
Aligning the shoulder girdle over the ribcage and extending the arms outward from the center of the torso assists in expanding the chest and lengthening the spine.
Triangle Pose develops stamina and provides a deep stretch for the groin, hamstrings, and hip muscles, while it strengthens the feet and legs. Moving into Trikonasana on an exhalation and lifting back up out of the yoga posture on an inhalation engages the core muscles.
How to do Triangle Pose
- Stand on a nonskid yoga mat with your feet about a leg’s-length apart. Place a yoga block, at its highest height, on the outside of your right foot.
- Turn your right leg outward approximately 90 degrees. Make sure that the centers of your thigh, knee and ankle are aligned with one another.
- Turn your left leg—including the foot, shin, knee, and thigh—inward about 30 degrees. Allow your pelvis to turn inward as well. Rotate the pelvis toward the right to whatever extent is necessary to allow your left foot to feel well grounded. Because of variations in individual hip joints, this angle will look different for everyone. Do not try to square your hips. Squaring the hips in this pose can misalign the hip joints, sacroiliac (SI) joints and knees.
- Lengthen your spine from the base to the top, maintaining a slight hollow in your belly.
- On an exhalation, pull your pubic bone up slightly and firm your abdominal muscles toward your spine. Engage your glutes gently in preparation, without tucking your tailbone. Then, slowly sidebend your pelvis to the right, allowing your torso to follow. Bend your right knee a bit to allow for this action.
- Lengthen your torso outward, over your right leg. Keep the right side of your torso long. The sideways movement should come from your pelvis, not from your waist. Keep both sides of your torso equally long.
- Place your right hand on the yoga block, or rest it on your shin. If you can reach your right hand all the way to the floor, you can place it either on the inside or outside of your front foot. That said, you should only put your hand on the floor if you can keep the two sides of the torso equally long, while maintaining steady, relaxed breathing.
- Reach your sternum away from your abdomen. Maintain the length in your spine and on both sides of your torso. Watch that you don’t collapse into the underside of your torso.
- Rotate your head to look up toward your top hand, or look straight ahead. Rotating your head can cause neck strain. If you feel any neck strain when you rotate your head, maintain a neutral head and neck position, looking straight ahead.
- Stay for 5 or more deep breaths.
- Maintaining your chest expansion, ground your left foot and inhale to extend through your spine and rise to standing. Repeat on the other side.