These Yogalifers are feeling the length in Louise McKinney Park!
Foundation Friday: Trikonasana || Triangle Pose
Utthita Trikonasana (extended triangle pose)
trikona: triangle asana: posture or seat
Trikonasana is one of those foundational poses that gets extra juicy with technical alignment and a longer hold. With that said, there are many ways and cues to get you into this pose, and as we always say, the best version is the one that feels the best. Strength and length are at the heart of triangle pose; feel grounded in your lower limbs and lengthened in your torso out to your fingertips.
Why do we practice Trikonasana?
Like Pranayama and meditation, we can think of our physical postures as medicine. Here are some of the benefits of triangle pose:
- improves the flexibility of the spine
- corrects alignment of the shoulders
- relieves backache
- soothes intestinal issues including gastritis, indigestion, acidity and flatulence
- massages and tones the pelvic organs
- corrects the effects of faulty posture and a sedentary lifestyle
- assists stiffness in the neck, shoulders and knees
- strengthens the ankles and tones the ligaments of the arms and legs
- improve appetite, digestion and circulation
- tone the spinal nerves and abdominal organs
- tone the reproductive organs
- stimulate the nervous system
How do we get there?
There's a lot going on in this pose: you are stretching your hamstrings and psoas, activating and lengthening the external and internal oblique muscles, and the aligning your shoulders as you engage and strengthen the rhomboids (those muscles between the scapulae). Not to mention all the internal medicine you're receiving simultaneously...!
So, from the ground up:
Turn your back toes to face the long edge of your mat, perhaps turning them in slightly depending on sensations in your knee.
The front foot is facing the short side of your mat.
You may use heel-to-arch alignment if it feels right or choose a wider stance based on what's right for your body.
Engage the inner thighs as if you're trying to bunch your mat in the middle.
Draw the pelvic floor up and simultaneously draw in and spin the bottom low belly toward the ceiling.
Spin the entire rib cage up as well.
Ideally, the hips are square to the long side of your mat, with the top hip point (the iliac crest) rolling up and open to the ceiling, the bottom hip rolling under. This will help to square the hips, but if the psoas is tight (and you may feel that tightness in the hamstrings, as the contraction of the psoas here draws on the hamstrings’ origin point), it may take time.
You can use a block under your hand and always remember to take a soft bend in your knees if that's what's feeling best. Never lock them out or hyper-extend!
Keep space in the lower-side oblique muscles so that you’re not collapsing through that lower side waist; keep it long and engaged. Think equal length in both sides of your waist, continuing with that length into your neck and right out your fingertips.
You may choose to gaze up to your top hand or simply look where it feels natural.
Keep your breath long and deep, pulling it in and expanding through the diaphragm to contract and tone your digestive organs and keep focus.
Be sure to come out of this pose on the inhale, engaging the abdominals to help you rise without stressing the lumbar spine. Choose muscle over momentum. Breathe. Switch sides!