Pose Breakdown: Triangle

Triangle pose, or trikonasana, is a fairly basic standing pose.  Not basic in the sense of being very easy to master, but basic in the sense that you're likely to find it in many sequences at all levels of yoga classes.  It is a beautiful standing posture that focuses on opening up the chest and hips, while stretching the back of the front leg.  Here are a few key pointers for an effective triangle pose.

 Triangle pose is accessible to all levels!

Triangle pose is accessible to all levels!

How to Step Into Triangle Pose

  1. Begin in a strong standing pose at the top of your mat.  On an exhale, step your left foot back about 3-4 feet, opening the back foot to be almost parallel to the back of the mat as you step.
  2. This will cause your hips to open and square to the left side.  Let them do that, and allow your chest to follow.  Take a deep breath in, as you exhale bring your hands to your hips.
  3. Tilt your right hip down towards the mat, sending the left hip up and back a little bit.  You might feel a stretch sensation up the back of the right leg.
  4. Begin to hinge at the hips (still oriented through the chest to the side of the mat), reaching the right hand down towards the ground or your leg as you reach the left hand up directly over your shoulder (maybe picture your hands moving in towards the start of a cartwheel!).
  5. You can take your gaze down to the mat, straight ahead or up towards your hand.
  6. To come out of this, bring the left hand down to meet the right on the mat and step the back foot forward into forward fold.  Inhale back up to standing and repeat on the opposite side.
 Full extended triangle is a beautiful hip and chest opener.

Full extended triangle is a beautiful hip and chest opener.

How to Modify Triangle Pose

You may want to consider modifying triangle pose if you are not able to reach the mat with your hand without some compensation in your spine.  Proper alignment is looking for a spine that is straight from your shoulders to your hips.  If you have to laterally flex through the spine in order to reach the floor, it'd be better for your body to use a block underneath your hand.  See the pictures below for two comparisons. 

 Those wanting the most advanced posture can reach the hand to the floor.

Those wanting the most advanced posture can reach the hand to the floor.

 Never feel pressured to touch the floor!  You can rest your hand on or beside your shin.

Never feel pressured to touch the floor!  You can rest your hand on or beside your shin.

 Sprenk uses a block to help maintain proper alignment in her spine.

Sprenk uses a block to help maintain proper alignment in her spine.