Utthita Trikonasa, otherwise known as the triangle pose, is considered one of the basic postures at our yoga retreat in Costa Rica and is learned early on in your practice at Panacea de la Montaña. It looks deceptively simple to do, yet is in fact a complex core strengthening yoga pose. Utthita means extended, and trikonasa comes from three words: tri (meaning three), kona (meaning angle), and asana (meaning seat or posture). So three angles = triangle.
The triangular form of the pose is easy to see from where the legs join to the floor, from the front leg, side body and arm, as well as in the front leg, hand and floor (if someone is able to come that far down). The pose is complex because your front leg is opening externally from the hip while your upper body is extending laterally over this leg. Hamstrings and groins get stretched, abdominals, hips, and back muscles have to work to help hold up your torso (and thus are strengthened), and your arms extend away from each other, opening across the chest.
Triangles are a quite solid and stable structure, and this is how this pose can feel when you are doing it in the right position and with the right support for your body. You may not be able to get your hand all the way down to the ground without distorting the alignment of your legs, hips, and shoulders. If that is the case, you can use a chair or a block for support under your hand. If you are just beginning your practice, it is helpful to actually practice this yoga triangle pose against a wall to help guide you in lining up your body.
9 steps for the triangle pose in yoga
Stand facing the long side of your mat.
Separate your feet 3.5 – 4 feet apart.
Turn your right foot out to face the short end of your mat, and turn your left toes in about halfway. Line up the heel of your front or right foot with the arch of your left foot. Ground into the big toe mound of your right foot, and keep your right knee lined up with the middle toes of that foot.
Lift through your thighs to create a feeling of lengthening your torso up in the front, back, and side bodies.
Bring stability into your torso by bringing the tail bone towards the pubic bone, and lifting through the pit of the abdomen.
Bring your arms up to your sides in line with your shoulders, and with your palms facing the ground. Maintain the feeling of your shoulder blades resting into your back and towards your waist throughout this pose.
Inhale and feel the lines of energy radiating through your legs, arms, and spine, exhale and extend your right side body over your right leg. Hinge from the hips and lengthen both sides of your body as you go into the yoga pose. Bring your right hand to the seat of the chair, a block, or to the ground on the little toe side of your foot. See the photo for an illustration of how to use a prop.
If comfortable for your neck, lightly tuck your chin and turn to look up at your left thumb. If this is not comfortable for your neck, look forward.
Let this yoga pose feel balanced in ease and effort, feeling the stability of the “triangle” as well as the “extended” length of your lines of energy. Let the muscles of your torso work to hold your weight rather than pushing down into your right hand as you become more accomplished in the pose. Hold for 5 to 15 breaths, then use an inhale to bring your body back up, turn your feet to the other end of your mat to do the other side.
For overcoming lower back pain see:
For shoulder stretches to relieve stiffness see: