Utthita Trikonāsana: Extended triangle pose
Utthita – extended or stretched
Tri – triangle
Koṇa – angle
Utthita Trikoṇāsana, Extended Triangle Pose
Utthita Trikoṇāsana is one of the first standing poses you will be introduced to as a yoga student. It is an integral part of any school of yoga – Hatha yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Iyengar Yoga etc. This āsana prepares the body and will give you valuable lessons about your body and its alignment allowing you to approach other āsanas with intelligence.
- Stand in samasthitiḥ. Inhale and jump out to the right, 3 – 4 ½ feet apart. Ensure that the outer sides of your foot are parallel to each other on the mat.
- Raise your arms upward in line with your shoulders; parallel to the mat, palms are facing downwards. Keep the arms engage and pull the shoulders away from the ears. The muscles of our chest are moving upwards, over your shoulders and descending down the back. The tailbone is tucked in allowing the buttocks to move forward and the pelvic bone to tilt upwards.
- Turn the right foot 90˚outwards and turn the left foot slightly inwards. The ankle of the right foot should be in line with the arch of the left foot. Ensure that your trunk is still pointing forward (to the wall in front of you) even after you have adjusted your feet. Press evenly into your feet to maintain stability in the pose.
- Inhale deeply and as you exhale extend your body to the right and then reach downwards to hold your knee, ankle or to rest the hand on the floor beside the foot. Be aware that you are not falling forward and that the right side of the body is parallel to the right thigh. Only bend as much as possible whilst still keeping the alignment described above. Remember that this is a side bend, not a side-forward bend. If you find your body falling forward, adjust the hand so it is higher up on the leg.
- Check that your left arm is directly above the left shoulder. Try not to sink into the right hand and lower joints but use the left arm to pull upwards, keeping the upper body light with a lifting sensation.
- Look down at your big toe, move your shoulders away from your ears and lengthen and relax the neck. Keeping the neck relaxed look gently upwards at the tip of your left hand fingers.
- Hold the āsana for five long deep breaths.
- To come our of the āsana, inhale, press into your left foot and engage your left arm to pull yourself upwards.
- Keep the arms active and engaged. Turn to the left side and practice the other side.
- In Trikonāsana the legs are the foundation and they need to be strong and rooted to the ground.
- Initially it will be difficult to judge how wide the legs should be – If your legs are too wide apart, then it is difficult to engage the quads and if too narrow the mobility in your spine and hips is restricted. This adjustment is unique to your own body and depends on the length and flexibility of your legs. Experiment with the distance and your body will soon tell you what is the ideal placement.
- After you have turned the right foot outwards, pull the kneecaps upwards (pushing into the big toe will help with this) and engage the quads by hugging the muscles into the bone.
- Avoid locking the knees by over extending them. This is more likely to happen to the right extended leg. If you feel pain in the back of the knee, then bend the knee, rotate the muscles of the upper thigh outwards and then straighten the knee again.
- The body weight must be distributed evenly through both feet. If your right big toe and the outer edge of the left foot are raised off the mat, then your body is not evenly distributed. Ensure that this is so by pushing into your right big toe and ensuring that the outer part of left foot does not lift off the ground.
Correct Front Foot Incorrect Front Foot
Correct back Foot Incorrect Back Foot
In our eagerness to reach the hand to the floor, there is often a tendency to fall forward whilst practicing Trikonāsana.
- Before you begin to bend check once again that your hips are pointing towards the front. If you are a new student and developing awareness of the body it might help to you’re your hands to the hip bones and physically check if they are correctly aligned.
- Try to bend from your hips and not from your waist. To ensure this, extend the body to the right before you start to drop downwards. This will allow you to keep the length in your spine as you drop to the right.
- Ensure that both sides of the body are equal in length. There will be tendency for the right side to shorten. If you feel the weight coming off your left foot then you know that your position needs adjustment.
- It might help you to keep your awareness on the belly button and try to rotate it towards the ceiling; this will ensure that your chest remains open instead of falling forward.
- Ensure that the tailbone is tucked inwards and the buttocks are not extending backwards. As soon as the tailbone starts moving backwards you will feel you chest falling forwards. You can play with this movement to understand how your torso reacts when you move the tailbone.
- If you have the awareness then move the back floating ribs forward and the front ribs backwards so that the spine is straight. The hips, spine and legs should be in one straight line.
This āsana is a lesson in the contraction and expansion of our body. There will be a tendency to drop weight into the right hand and the lower joints. Avoid this by keeping the left arm active; your fingers are reaching towards the ceiling whilst the arm is still rooted in the socket. Tucking your tailbone inwards and ensuring that the buttocks are not moving backwards allows you to tap into core strength. Your foundation will be strong whilst your upper body remains light.
Modifications when practicing Trikonāsana:
- To understand the correct alignment of the body try to practice the āsana against a wall. Stand in a corner, facing one wall. Step out to the right. Push the outer side of the left foot against the wall. Try and adjust your body so that the back of the legs, the hips and the back of the chest are pressed against the wall. This is the correct alignment of the body.
- If you are still working on flexibility in the legs and hips, you might find it helpful to use a block under the hand that is reaching for the floor. This will give you more stability then resting the hand on your leg and will allow you to open your chest effectively.
Benefits Of Extended Triangle Pose (Trikonasana) -:
- Strengthens and tones the legs.
- Removes stiffness in hips and legs
- Relieves back and neck ache
- Strengthens the chest and diaphragm.
- Teaches the connection between the thighs, hips and spine
- If you have back pain and struggle with forward bends, trikonāsana gives you a safe way to stretch the hamstrings.
- Stimulates the abdominal organs leading to better digestion and weight loss around the waistline.
- Helps relieve stress
- Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause
- Relieves backache, especially through second trimester of pregnancy
Contraindications and Cautions Do not attempt to practice this āsana if you have
- Low Blood Pressure
- Heart Condition: Practice against a wall. Keep the top arm on the hip.
- High blood pressure: Turn the head to gaze downward in the final pose.
- Neck problems: Don’t turn your head to look upward; continue looking straight ahead and keep both sides of the neck evenly long.
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