The “tri” part is sometimes pronounced with a long e sound like tree, or a short “i” sound depending on preference.
from Sanskrit is Extended Triangle Pose. Utthita means, “extended” and Tri means “three” and Kona is “an angle”.
This pose is a standing pose that has an element of balance. Aligning the body is important.
Practice of Uttita Trikonasana
- Stand in Mountain Pose (tadasana) with legs together and arms at sides. Step or lightly jump your feet apart to the distance of your leg length, usually between 3-4 feet apart. Raise your arms so that they are parallel to the floor. As you extend your limbs into a “star,” make sure they are active with energy radiating from your center, in a fashion that is not bent or limp. Then going to the right first, rotate the left foot 45 degrees to the right which turns it in slightly. Rotate your right foot out a full 90 degrees. Ideally the heel of your front foot will draw an imaginary straight line to your back foot’s inner arch. Some teachers do this slightly differently, and suggest that you align your left heel with your right heel, with the feet turned the same way. Your feet are the foundation in this pose, so make sure your weight is spread equally on the feet and that they are firmly planted on the earth.
- The next part is to make your thighs firm and lift your kneecaps with your quadriceps which are the muscles in your thighs. You want to work toward having straight legs with the kneecaps lifted. Go back to noticing your feet. Is the weight distributed equally over the whole area of each foot? A subtle detail is to place slightly more weight on the inside of the forward (right) foot and the outside of the rear (left) foot, as these spots are likely to come off the floor if you are not attentive. What about your arms? Are they extended from your torso and still projecting energy?
- Shift your torso to the right. Keep the spine long and with your arms parallel to the ground. Shoulders should stay on the same plane, with your left shoulder not moving forwards. The back and the neck are extended and long. Think of your spine as staying in a line, even when you move to the next part. Your hips move to the left staying on the same plane. Keep that left hip back as it will be likely to have a tendency to move forward. You extend your right arm forward and down by working from the hips. This pose elongates the inner thigh muscles of the forward leg. The more stretch that one realizes in the forward leg, the deeper one can descend into the pose without losing the aligned straight spine. As you descend, keep the spine aligned over the line between the rear foot arch and the forward foot. In other words, stay in a flat plane with your body.
- Next you want to shift and extend to the right and extend your right arm toward the floor. You will reach your knee, shin, ankle, or your big toe, depending on your flexibility. Go only as far as you can keep your spine straight. Make sure the sides of your torso are equally extended, and not contorted. You don’t want rounding. Be careful to avoid the collapse of the bottom floating ribs toward the pelvic rim. Place your right palm on the block if you like. The yoga block is on its end, standing behind your right leg.
- Extend your left arm toward the sky, in line with the tops of your shoulders. Your head should be in a neutral position facing forward or turned to the left, eyes looking at the left hand. If you have any neck problems or high blood pressure, it is best to face forward with even extension on each side of your neck.
- Stay in this pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute or for a 3 to 5 full breaths. Breathe in a relaxed way through the nose during the pose. Heavy breathing would indicate straining. It helps to look at a point either in front of you or on your hand. Focal point attention develops “dristi” which is a Sankrit, meaning a focused gaze with the eyes. Inhale to come up, strongly pressing the back heel into the floor and reaching the top arm toward the sky. Come back to center and jump or step back to Mountain Pose (tadasana) with feet together and arms down at the sides. Start again, this time reversing the feet and repeat for the same length of time to the left side.
1. Place your mat against the wall. With your back to the wall, spread your feet apart. Do the pose with your heels and buttocks touching the wall. The wall can give you support, help your balance and assist with the alignment of your body in one plane.
2. Another variation is done by stretching the top arm toward the sky, you can try to stretch it over the ear, parallel to the floor.
Benefits of Uttita Trikonasana
This pose is invigorating, and stretches and tones the legs, knees, hips, buttocks, pelvic muscles, and thighs. Stretch and opening happens in the hips, groins, hamstrings, and calves. Additionally, the triangle pose removes stiffness, corrects minor deformities and encourages an even development in legs; strengthens ankles, neck, back, develops chest, rib cage, relieves neck sprains and backache. Symptoms of menopause may be relieved and pregnant women may enjoy doing the supported version against the wall for relief of backache. Trikonasana is considered therapeutic for anxiety, flat feet, infertility, neck pain, osteoporosis, and sciatica. The regular practice of yoga is health promoting, and this pose may be helpful to individuals with those conditions. Please do not consider this article as offering medical advice, and consult your healthcare practitioner when beginning a yoga program.
Don’t do the pose if you diarrhea, a headache, low blood pressure.
If you have high blood pressure, do the pose against the wall and don’t extend the top arm but rest it on your hip.