Trikonasana (Triangle pose) or Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle pose) can be one of the more challenging poses in your yoga sequence because there are many expressions of the posture, and there is no absolute right or wrong way to do it. We take a deeper look at this pose and in honour of it (Trikonasana's literal translation is three-angled pose), we lay out this post in series of threes. :)
How to get into Trikonasana in 3 easy steps
1. Starting in a standing pose at the top of your mat, feet together, send the right leg back with the toes facing the back and turn the left foot in to a 45 degree angle.
2. Keeping the hips in that position, lift the arms up so that they are parallel to the floor and extend either arm as far as you can away from each other like you are being pulled in either direction. Open up the chest and breathe fully.
3. Keeping the spine long, inhale and lean the whole upper body sideways in the direction of the right arm and over the right leg, exhale and twist the upper body down so that the right hand touches the floor, your shin or a block and the left hand is straight up towards the sky. Keep both legs straight, stretching up towards the sky and hold for five breaths before alternating to the other side.
If you are more of a visual learner, check out this great tutorial by Maria Villella.
3 things to keep in mind in Trikonasana
1. The interesting aspect of this pose is that whether you are flexible or not, most people tend to forget that their spine should remain neutral and long, maybe just slightly rotated upward. This means that a lot of us will need to back off and 'lean' less into the pose, and pull ourselves using our core abdominal muscles horizontally and perhaps slightly upward to maintain the length of the posture. There should be no or very little weight on the bottom hand. You can even just lean into the front hand and keep the posture there.
2. There tends to be a lot of bums sticking out in this pose. The aim is to keep the body as straight and thin as possible, like you are in between two panes of glass, trying not to touch either one. If in order to remain thin you need to lift the body up a bit and rest the hand on the shin in order not to jut the buttocks out, then so be it!
3. Don't forget to breathe! If your breath starts to shorten, back up a little bit until you can breathe with a longer exhalation than inhalation.
3 Trikonasana Modifications
1. For people who have more flexible bodies, we often see them leaning into the pose with a relatively wider stance and more weight on the hand that reaches the floor. The issue with this version of fuller expression is that you may not be using your core as much as you can and as result, putting more strain on your knees. To counter that, you can try slightly bending your extended knee and lifting your lower arm up from the floor 90º, so that your lower arm is parallel to your head. By also rolling your lower back in (i.e. tucking your tail bone in), you will feel a lot more power and strength in the pose.
2. As a hip-opening pose, you can adjust the length of the stance to feel the stretch of your inner thighs and upper back intensifying. If it's too hard, there is no rule about slightly bending the front knee to take the pull off of tight hamstrings.
3. Alternatively if you are less flexible, try to keep the stance between the feet narrower, feel your core working and make sure the knees are not compressed. Imagine you are trying to rotate your hips upwards to get a tan in the sun! You will feel a lot more opening on the front of your body. Slowly work your stance wider a day at time a time, and make sure you don't compromise the integrity of your knees as you progress deeper.http://instagram.com/p/wIoxUnhF7R/?modal=true
3 awesome Trikonasana variations to play around with
1. We love having fun in our poses. This one lets you poke your bum out!
2. All tied up! Try to get into a bind.
3. Take it up the wall!
So, now you've got your Utthita Trikonasana down to a fine art, you can try your hand at Parivritta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle pose)! Here Kino MacGregor shows us how.
Do you have any other Trikonasana tips you'd like to share with us? Don't be shy! We'd love to hear from you!