Utthita Trikonasana: Triangle Pose

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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.

ADJUSTMENTS/MODIFICATIONS:

  • 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.

STEP-BY-STEP:

  1. Begin in warrior II pose with your right foot forward.
  2. Straighten your front knee and keep a micro-bend so the knee does not lock out.
  3. Exhale to send your left hip toward your back foot and hinge toward the front of your mat.
  4. Place your right hand on the ground, block, or shin. Reach your left hand toward the sky.
  5. Gently roll your left ribs back as you encourage your right ribs forward. Both sides of your torso should feel equal in length.
  6. Draw your tailbone down toward your left heel.
  7. Take your gaze toward your top hand if comfortable on your neck.
  8. 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.

PREPARATORY POSES:

  • Standing wide-legged forward fold | Prasarita padottanasana
  • Warrior II | Virabhadrasana II
  • Tree pose | Vrksasana

SEQUENTIAL POSES:

COUNTER POSES:

  • Pose dedicated to the sage Marichi (C) | Marichyasana C
  • Seated forward fold | Paschimottanasana
  • Cow face pose | Gomukhasana

SANSKRIT:

  • Utthita = extended
  • Trikona = triangle
  • Asana = pose

PHYSICAL BENEFITS:

  • Expands chest and shoulders.
  • Stretches and strengthens thighs, knees, ankles.
  • Stretches hips, groins, hamstrings, calves.
  • Encourages natural arches in the feet.

ENERGETIC BENEFITS:

  • Relieves stress.
  • Calms the mind.
  • Opens up energetic channels.


Virabhadrasana II: Warrior II Pose

ADJUSTMENTS    |     BENEFITS   |     SEQUENCING    |     SANSKRIT    |     STEPS

Warrior II, or virabhadrasana (veer-ah-bah-DRAHS-anna) II, is a strengthening pose that improves physical and mental endurance. Its ability to stretch your upper legs and ankles while also expanding your chest and shoulders makes it an essential foundational pose for most asana-based (pose-based) yoga practices.

Philosophy + Origin

While warrior II is a strong pose, it also requires balance and steadiness. Although many origin stories for virabhadrasana II describe the shape of the pose as the stance Virabhadra took as he drew his sword to remove the head of his enemy, any student who has practiced the pose will learn that, while fierce, there’s also a gentleness within the physical lines. The yogic philosophy of sthira sukha, or balancing effort with ease, can be applied when practicing warrior II. How can you harness your warrior spirit while not losing sight of your gentle spirit and your commitment to ahimsa, non-violence?

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