To get into Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose), you might typically hear a teacher cue to “lengthen through your spine, reach as far forward as you can, and then tilt your torso bringing your hand down towards your foot.”
This cue will get you into a pretty good feeling hamstring stretch, but there is so much more to get out of this when you become aware of these 6 things you've probably always missed in Triangle pose.
1. Engage the quad of your front leg.
You may hear teachers say, “pull up on your kneecap.” What does that actually mean?
Basically, engage your quadriceps and focus on drawing the muscle upwards, instead of just squeezing as hard as you can. This action creates length in the quads, and allows the quad’s opposing muscle, the hamstring, to stretch deeper.
2. Press through the outer blade of your back foot.
We are often so focused on moving forward and what is in front of us, that we forget about what’s behind us — our back leg. Pressing through the outer blade of your back foot engages your back leg to create a strong base of support in tandem with the front leg. With strong and steady legs, the torso can move more freely and there will be less pressure on the spine.
3. It doesn’t matter how far down your leg you can reach.
There is often an unsaid, internal pressure in a yoga class to be able to reach the floor, reach your foot, or reach any other trivial destination. In pushing ourselves too far, we can lose our form and sacrifice the true benefits of the pose. Instead of overreaching, focus on engaging your core to hold up your torso and maintain a flat back.
4. Stack your shoulders.
You don’t want to fold over the inside of your leg. Instead, think about reaching the crown of your head forward and then rotate your torso, spiraling your heart upwards, so that your shoulders are aligned one on top of the other. This movement activates your core muscles and helps maintain a straight spine.
5. Tuck your chin in towards your shoulder.
With your gaze up towards your top extended hand, tuck your chin in towards your shoulder to protect your neck.
Perhaps most importantly, remember to feel. Triangle pose is a strong, energetic, and vibrant pose. With your arms expanding in both directions and your heart open, feel your bright light shining and radiating out of your heart.
There’s a lot more than meets the eye to this common yoga pose. I challenge you to become aware of your muscular tendencies in Utthita Trikonasana. Be mindful of these 6 adjustments next time you practice Utthita Trikonasana and notice how your expression of the pose changes.
Image credit: Alyonamoves