Utthita Trikonasana: Triangle Pose
A classic standing posture in many yoga lineages utthita trikonasana (oo-TEE-tah trik-cone-AHS-uh-nah), strengthens and stretches the entire body. Approaching the pose with knowledge of intelligent modifications will help you enjoy the posture and all it has to offer.
Philosophy + Origin
In hatha yoga, where the intent is to unite opposing forces – sun with moon, masculine with feminine, light with dark – this pose offers an opportunity to embody this philosophy when you focus on finding stability while you expand. When you look at the physical shape of the posture, you also see the triangles being formed. And, when you look a little closer, you find several triangles hidden in the shape of the body – the two legs with the floor, floating under the side body, and between the front foot and the front hand.
- Place your hand on a block next to your front leg to help keep length in the spine.
- Avoid forcing the hips to squared.
- Micro-bend your front knee to prevent locking it out.
- Look to the side or down rather than looking up to prevent strain in your neck.
- Practice the posture with your entire back body supported at a wall.
- Begin in warrior II pose with your right foot forward.
- Straighten your front knee and keep a micro-bend so the knee does not lock out.
- Exhale to send your left hip toward your back foot and hinge toward the front of your mat.
- Place your right hand on the ground, block, or shin. Reach your left hand toward the sky.
- Gently roll your left ribs back as you encourage your right ribs forward. Both sides of your torso should feel equal in length.
- Draw your tailbone down toward your left heel.
- Take your gaze toward your top hand if comfortable on your neck.
- Hold the pose for up to 60 seconds. Use an inhalation to bring yourself back up, rooting through the back heel and using it as an anchor. Change the position of the feet and repeat on the opposite side.
- Standing wide-legged forward fold | Prasarita padottanasana
- Warrior II | Virabhadrasana II
- Tree pose | Vrksasana
- Revolved triangle pose | Parivrtta utthita trikonasana
- Head to knee pose | Janu sirsasana
- Pyramid pose | Parsvottanasana
- Pose dedicated to the sage Marichi (C) | Marichyasana C
- Seated forward fold | Paschimottanasana
- Cow face pose | Gomukhasana
- Utthita = extended
- Trikona = triangle
- Asana = pose
- Expands chest and shoulders.
- Stretches and strengthens thighs, knees, ankles.
- Stretches hips, groins, hamstrings, calves.
- Encourages natural arches in the feet.
- Relieves stress.
- Calms the mind.
- Opens up energetic channels.
Bhujangasana: Cobra Pose
Bhujangasana (boo-jang-GAHS-anna) is a great way to strengthen the upper back and is often practiced as part of a transition back to downward-facing dog in vinyasa yoga. Practicing cobra pose regularly can improve your lung capacity, reduce stress, and stimulate many of the internal organs in your body.
Philosophy + Origin
Although often perceived as evil or dangerous, snakes also have a rich history of power and worship. In some yoga traditions, the energy of kundalini is represented by a serpent resting coiled at the base of the spine. By awakening this snake, we enliven our body’s energy and create a pathway towards enlightenment. This connection with enlightenment is also seen in many portrayals of the Buddha where he is shown with a cobra over his head.
- Option to swap cobra pose for sphinx pose by placing your forearms on the floor.
- Lengthen the back of the neck to avoid straining the neck and upper back.
- If you experience discomfort in the lower back, bend the elbows more.