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.
Malasana: Squat Pose or Garland Pose
A great stretch for ankles and the lower back, Malasana (mahl-AH-sana), which is also referred to as Squat or Garland pose, opens the groin and tones the belly. While comfortable for some, Malasana can be difficult for others. Appropriate adjustments and modifications can help students enjoy the benefits of this posture while strengthening and opening the muscles needed to practice Malasana and other postures.
Philosophy + Origin
There are many beautiful attempts to defend the translation of Malasana as “Garland Pose.” While mala most commonly refers to a garland or rosary, many students have a difficult time understanding how this imagery applies to the pose. Some teachers argue that the shape of the body depicts the bead on a mala, or perhaps the arms look like a mala or garland hanging from the neck. Other teachers will use the story of how this posture is traditionally taken when receiving the gift of a garland from a spiritual teacher. While all very poetic, there’s another lesser-known understanding of Malasana that makes more sense. The word mala can also be translated as excrement. Considering the digestive benefits of this posture, it makes a lot more sense.