Full name: UTTHITA TRIKONASANA = Extended Triangle Pose
Utthita = Extended (pronunciation: oo-TEE-tah)
Trikona = Three angle or triangle (pronunciation: trik-con)
Asana = Pose (pronunciation: AHS-anna)
Why You Should Practise Trikonasana
Triangle pose is a foundational standing yoga pose; once you get familiar with trikonasana it will help you with more challenging standing poses, deep hip openers and intense hamstring stretch like forward folds. So introduce triangle to your yoga practice to get a taste of all the trikonasana benefits, and check out some cool variations once you are familiar with the basics covered below.
Trikonasana also feels really, really good (and not all yoga poses can say that for themselves)!
Utthita Trikonasana Instructions
- Start standing in Tadasana at the top of your mat.
- Step out to the side, so you face the long edge of your mat, and take your feet wide, approx. one leg-length apart. Place your hands on your hips.
- Turn your right toes so they point forwards to the top of your mat. Turn your left toes in about 5-10 degrees (this makes it easier to push firmly through the outside blade of the foot).
- Engage the right quad so the knee cap firms up and lifts slightly. If you are hypermobile, keep a micro-bend in the right knee. Push firmly into the outside blade of the left foot, so the inner arch remains lifted, and engage the left quad. The muscle contraction of both legs creates a sense of energy drawing upwards, making you feel both strong and light.
- Extend both arms out in a T shape. Keep the shoulders softly drawn down the back, so the neck is long and spacious. Lengthen through the waist by slightly engaging the core.
- At the same time, on an inhale, slide the hips to the back of the mat and reach the right hand forward; your torso will naturally shift and lengthen in the same plane as the right leg. (You can also visualise a string pulling the left hip back and right fingers forward.)
- On an exhale, tilt the arms so the right-hand comes down and the hand rests either on your shin or a block, and the left-hand raises to the sky, the palm turning open. Make sure to keep the core engaged and the waist long, so you are hinging at the hip joint and not folding at the waist.
- Look either up to your left hand, straight ahead, or down at your big toe (whichever is most comfortable). Keep your neck in a neutral position. If you have neck problems let the head go heavy and dangle to release unnecessary tension.
- Take deep breaths, particularly into the left side of the body which is being stretched.
- Stay for as long as you like.
- Repeat on the other side.
Benefits of Trikonasana:
- Great for hamstring and hip flexibility
- Gentle hamstring opener that helps prepare the body for deeper forward folds
- Builds leg and back strength
- Opens the shoulders, chest and back
- Gentle core work
- Helps improve deep breathing
- Has lots of variations
Trikonasana Tips, Tricks and Variations
Which Variation is Right?
If you have a look at images of trikonasana, you will see there are A LOT of variations: hips stacked on top of each other, top hip rolling in, hand on the floor, hand on the shin, fingers hooking the big toe (hi, Ashtanga!), legs really wide, legs sort of close… So which is the best? Well, that depends on your unique body. The intention of the pose is to strengthen and lengthen the entire back and side of the body, so explore different widths with your feet and arm positions until you feel strong, open and can breathe freely and deeply.
Basically, don’t get too caught up in all those trikonasana images!
Tight Shoulder Variations
- To create more space around the shoulders and release the neck, on step 5, rotate the palms so they face up towards the ceiling and note the shoulder blades’ engagement. Either flip your palms back down, but keep the shoulder engagement, or keep the palms facing up.
- Once you are in the pose, add a half bind with the top arm. Reach the arm behind you and bend the elbow so it either rests on your lower back, or grab hold of your hip crease.
If you want to add some extra core work, reach both arms towards the top of the mat in line with your ears. As soon as you lift that bottom arm your external obliques have to fire up, or you will completely collapse!
If you are developing a self-guided practice, figuring out what asana goes where in the sequence can be challenging. Triangle pose can go pretty much anywhere in a standing sequence, but because it opens up the body so nicely, I like it as one of the first poses after warming up with some sun salutations. I then follow it up with its counter-pose parivrtta trikonasana (revolved triangle).
That is everything you need to get started with trikonasana, let me know how you get on with triangle in your yoga practice!