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What Is Triangle Pose?
The triangle pose, also called Trikonasana (“trikona” is a Sanskrit word for “triangle,” while “asana” means “pose”), is a foundational standing pose in yoga that strengthens and lengthens the hamstrings and groin while also opening the shoulders and stretching the hips. The foundational posture is named for the triangle shape your body makes during the move.
What Is Utthita Trikonasana?
Utthita Trikonasana, called extended triangle pose in English, requires nearly the same setup and execution as the regular triangle pose, except the stance is wider to open the pelvis, and the hand placement varies slightly. For instance, if you’re reaching your left foot with your left hand, grab your big toe or place your lower hand flat on the ground beside the foot, rather than stopping at the shin or ankle.
How to Do Utthita Trikonasana
Despite its simple appearance, there are a few key steps to follow when performing extended triangle pose:
- Position your body. Starting in the mountain pose (or Tadasana), move your feet to about four feet apart, and extend your arms, so they’re parallel to the ground with your palms facing down. If you’re starting on the right side, the right foot should be at a 90-degree angle with the end of the mat, with your left foot at a 45-degree angle.
- Bend to the side. Take a deep breath, then exhale as you bend your body at the hip joint, extending to the side over the right leg (if you’re starting on the right). Keep the sides of your waist long, not scrunched. Lengthen your tailbone towards your back heel.
- Reach with your arms. As you reach your right arm down to your right foot, gently grab your ankle or your big toe with your right hand (if your arm doesn’t reach, feel free to use a block). At the same, your left arm should be extending upwards, with the fingers of your left hand pointed towards the ceiling, forming a straight, vertical line with your arms and shoulders.
- Hold and repeat. With your shoulders aligned, turn your head and look up to the ceiling. Briefly hold, then return to the starting position and repeat with the left leg.
5 Benefits of Utthita Trikonasana
Like many yoga poses, Utthita Trikonasana carries a few benefits for your body and mind, such as:
- Increases stability. Utthita Trikonasana activates your core muscles, which aids in balance and stability.
- Stretches and lengthens the spine. This pose can reduce stiffness in the spine and back, resulting in increased flexibility.
- Opens the hips and shoulders. Utthita Trikonasana unlocks the hip flexors and shoulders, increasing mobility and reducing injury risk.
- Stimulates your organs. Utthita Trikonasana pose avates your core, which can stimulate your digestive organs, potentially improving your metabolism.
- Reduces stress. Utthita Trikonasana can target the lower back, which is where some people carry their stress. This pose can help release that tension, resulting in reduced anxiety and a more stable emotional state.
3 Tips for Performing Utthita Trikonasana
Before performing any new exercise, consult your doctor to determine if it’s right for you. Utthita Trikonasana may seem simple, but it can be less effective when performed incorrectly. To successfully execute a triangle pose, check out the following tips:
- Keep your legs straight. If you’re reaching towards your foot but can’t quite get there, avoid bending your knee, which can make the pose less effective. If knee-bending continues to be an issue, place a yoga block beside your extended leg to use for leverage. Learn about yoga props in our complete guide.
- Avoid bending your back. Utthita Trikonasana is not a forward bend but a sideways movement at the hips performed with straight arms and legs. Avoid bending your back and rounding your spine while performing a triangle pose. Your body should form the shape of the letter “I” rather than “C.”
- Engage your muscles. While this pose may seem simple to execute, it does require the active engagement of your core and thighs to be effective. As you sink into the foundation pose, keep those muscles tightened to receive all of the benefits.