Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle)
How to do it
The key to proper form in Utthita Trikonasana is the ability to control the position of the pelvis and the rib cage in the pose. Begin standing with your feet wide apart, left foot turned out, right foot turned slightly in and arms extended out.
EXHALE: Gradually contract the abdomen as you bend sideways and place your left hand on your left leg, while turning the right side of the body toward the ceiling. Extend your right arm up and look up.
INHALE: Lift the upper body up, arms out to the sides.
Two ways of moving in and out of Utthita Trikonasana
PLEASE NOTE: In viniyoga tradition we do NOT ask students to “keep both sides of the torso equally long”, or to “drive the hip of the front leg deep into the socket”, as it is often taught. Manipulating the position of your hips and pelvis in the pose can lead to shear stress on your sacroiliac joints.
The key to proper form in Utthita Trikonasana is the ability to control the position of the pelvis and the rib cage. Begin standing with your feet wide apart, right foot turned out, left foot turned slightly in and arms extended out.
Exhale: Gradually contract your abdomen as you bend sideways and place your right hand on your right leg, while turning the left side of your body toward the ceiling. Extend your left arm up and look up.
Inhale: Lift your upper body up, arms out to the sides.
Breathing in Utthita Trikonasana
Inhale: Expand your rib cage and lengthen your spine, turning one side of your rib cage toward the ceiling.
Exhale: Progressively contract your abdomen, anchor your feet into the ground and reach up and slightly back with your top hand.
TRICK. Control the position of your pelvis and do not allow it to tip either in the direction of the side bend or backwards. This can be accomplished by contracting your lower abdomen and by intentionally turning your pelvis toward the wide side of your mat.
Utthita Trikonasana: Feet parallel shifts the focus to the upper body and emphasizes the stretching and strengthening of the areas between the pelvis and the shoulder. You can look up or down depending on how your neck feels.
Utthita Trikonasana: Side bends is very useful for targeting quadratus lumborum (QL) muscles and dealing with any kind of torso asymmetries. It is used mostly for strengthening of the lateral structures of the torso.
Double side bends
Utthita Trikonasana: Double side bends intensifies the effect of strengthening of the sides of the torso and can also give you a deeper stretch in quadratis lumborum and psoas muscles.
Utthita Trikonasana: Side pumps stretches and strengthens the side of the torso, including the areas that move and support the shoulder. By contracting and stretching the same areas in one movement, you can relieve tension and get more satisfying stretch through the entire side of the torso, shoulder and hip.
Utthita Trikonasana: Arm sweep is one of the most effective poses for relieving neck tension. By moving your arm up and down, you are increasing circulation to the area between your neck and shoulder. To amplify the effect, it is useful to keep the arm up for few breaths while looking up, and then fold it behind your back and keep it there for a few breaths while looking down. You will also get a deep stretch along the entire side of the body that you can modulate by placing your hand lower or higher up along your front leg.
Utthita Trikonasana: Heel lifts is a wonderful pose for specifically targeting the area right above the pelvis on each side. It’s a very accessible pose but it gives a great stretch through the entire side of the body and ensures that students pay close attention to what they are doing
Utthita Trikonasana: Palm up is very effective for stretching the side of the neck and the front of the shoulder. Since we spend most of our days with our shoulders internally rotated (which can lead to tension and imbalance), this pose gives us a chance to externally rotate the shoulder (and realign the relationship between the chest and shoulder girdle).
Utthita Trikonasana: With block can provide additional stability in the pose. We have to be mindful while using the block though and make sure that the student doesn’t curl the body forward in her effort to reach it.
Utthita Trikonasana: With chair works great for students with limited lateral spinal mobility. It gives them a chance to experience the benefits of the pose without losing alignment in the upper body. The chair also provides stability in the pose for those who might have balance challenges.