Yoga Pose 101: Triangle Pose Or Utthita Trikonasana

Daniel Scott
Yoga Pose 101: Triangle Pose Or Utthita Trikonasana

oo-TEE-tah trik-cone-AHS-anna

utthita = extended

trikona = three angle or triangle

Fun Fact: Most math teachers and architects would agree that the inherently simple and extremely durable Triangle is the most structurally stable shape known to man…unless they practice yoga, have tight hips, and short hamstrings.

In this case, the triangle becomes one of the most complicated, frustrating, and unstable forms ever created. Funny thing, that.

Benefits

  • Strengthens your leg, foot, and neck situations
  • Opens the hips, groinals, ham-tangles, calves, torso rotation, and shoulder girdle
  • Stimulates abdominal area
  • Said to relieve stress (most likely by one of those uber-flexy yogis AMIRITE?!)
  • Improves alignment and stability
  • Teaches patience through structure and breath awareness
  • Makes it okay to use a block without feeling like a chump

Contraindications/Cautions

  • Low Blood Pressure? Take your time coming back up from this pose.
  • High blood pressure? Gaze downward, rest top hand on hip or top arm on side, and keep head slightly above the heart.
  • Neck Problem? Keep your gaze forward—not down or up—and sides of the neck evenly long.
  • Inflexible and sweaty? Keep trying and bring a towel.

Step by Step

(from Tadasana)

    1. Exhale: Step feet one leg’s distance apart (3-4 feet, depending on the yogi).
    2. Inhale: Raise arms parallel to the floor, reaching actively in both directions. Shoulder blades draw in, hands extend out, palms down, fingers crackling with the magic of excitement.
    3. Turn front foot (this is the foot closest to what you consider the front of the room, Ob-v) so the toes point towards the front of your mat. Rotate rear foot at a 45-degree angle so that the toes point to the appropriate front corner. Can it be wider than 45 degrees? Heck yeah! Should it more than 90? Nope.
    4. Exhale: Extend your front arm (see above) forward as the rear hip slides back, much like one would do when trying to reach the mop when it falls behind the fridge (think about it). I’m a big fan of keeping the rear hand on the rear hip a.k.a. Lil’ Teapot Asana. Hold this position, trust me.
    5. Inhale: Keeping the gaze over the front fingers, expand in all directions—through the arms, legs, fingers, and toes. Lift the arches. Draw the navel in. Smile like you mean it.
    6. Exhale: Keeping the side-body long, let the front hand drift down slowly and rest on the shin, somewhere below the knee. Even if you’re super-flexible, stop being so rushy-pants and enjoy a few moments of length before you start collapsing under the crushing weight of your own best intentions.
    7. Eventually, you can explore resting your hand on various parts of your shin, ankle, or even the floor—outside, inside, or on top of your front foot. Remember to keep your sides long! This is more important than touching the ground or even the ankle. Try your best to extend through that front knee without locking it out.
    8. Extend the top arm towards the sky with the breath. Keep the palm rotated in the same direction as the chest and your gaze. Lots of people like to look up towards the top hand here. Avoid over-rotating or hyper-extending the shoulder. Think one long line from top fingertips, through the elbow, shoulders, and down into the floor.
    9. Whooooooo boy. Stay here as long as you like. I suggest at least three times longer than it actually took you to set everything up.

Modifications

  • Should the heels be aligned, or should the front heel intersect the back arch? Try both and see what you like. If you’ve got tight hips, you might even—GASP—take the feet out farther to the long edges of your mat for a wider wheelbase.
  • How far apart should the feet be? If you’re having trouble staying balanced, it’s possible your stance is way too long or too short. Think shorter than Warrior 2, but longer than Pyramid pose. If none of that makes sense, it’s all good—enjoy the journey of unfettered exploration.

Variation

Extend the top arm over top ear, in line with the side body. Raise that bottom arm up to meet it, as if you were holding a large beach ball. The closer the hands get, the heavier that imaginary ball becomes. Will this make you better at yoga? Probably not, but it’s a great, polite ego-killer.

Beginners Tip

Give yourself mad props, yo (read: use a block) to help extend the bottom arm. This takes a lot of pressure out of the front leg, hips, and shoulders, making it much easier to actually connect with this posture without collapsing or looking like bad public art.

Deepen the Pose

Try binding the top arm behind the back, tucking the hand into the opposite, lower hip. Now take the bottom arm and reach it parallel to the floor. Now Dance! You can also try hopping on one foot. Next step, LEVITATION.

Image Credit: BeyondDrishti.com