Trikonasana (tri-ko-NAH-se-na), Triangle Pose, is a common pose done in many yoga classes. This pose opens the hips, chest and shoulders, stretches inner thighs, hamstrings and organs, strengthens legs and neck, lengthens the spine and aids in digestion. It’s an obvious name for the pose as you are making the shape of a triangle.
Bay Area yoga teacher Jill Abelson refers to this pose as representing the three energies of the universe: creation (Bramha), sustaining things as they are (Vishnu) and destruction (Shiva). I like to focus on this profound concept while in the pose.
- Take a big step back with your left leg — about one leg length apart from your right leg. Your legs will form an equilateral triangle with the floor.
- With arms outstretched horizontally, turn your right toes to face the front of the room, and turn the back toes in slightly. Your feet should be in one line. I have come to prefer heel-to-heel alignment in this pose, though some teachers suggest aligning front heel to back arch. Either way, press down in the ball of your front foot, engage the calf and take a micro bend in the front knee to protect it from hyperextending.
- Reach your right hand as far forward as you can, dropping the right hip so you can continue to hinge forward. Your tailbone points back behind you.
- When you have reached as far forward as you can, place your right hand on your shin, ankle, foot, mat, or block. The placement of the hand will vary from person to person. You don’t have to look exactly like anyone else in the room. Keep the spine as long as possible. Remember that triangles are not made of curves. People put too much effort into reaching their hands to the mat, resulting in a rounded spine, which no longer resembles a triangle. In doing this, many of the above mentioned benefits are compromised. This can be easily solved by lifting the torso higher and placing the lower hand somewhere higher on a shin or a block or even the thigh.
- Finish off the pose by reaching your left hand up to the sky along with your gaze. The arms are at 6 o’clock and 12 o’clock. Keep both legs active, as well as your core, and keep the front knee in line with middle toe.
- Stay for three to five breaths.
- Repeat the pose on the other side.
Be careful to not hyperextends at the knee of the front leg. Push down in the ball of the foot, engage the calf muscle and micro-bend the knee slightly. You can also wedge a block under your calf muscle to for a more supportive way to do this.
Energetically, your body is extending in four different directions. Your legs and feet are rooted down into the floor to provide a strong and stable base. That energy rebounds up to the sky with the upper hand and gaze. The crown of the head reaches forward, as the tailbone points in the opposite direction.
Stay in the pose for five rounds of breathing in and out. The benefits of the pose come with taking breathes. Send your breath to the tight spots of your body and see if you can find a release with each exhale.