Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose) In Depth

Level: Fundamentals to Advanced

I'm very excited to present to you this excerpt from my manuscript "Yoga: Practice and Play," beautifully illustrated by my cover artist (and mother) Barbara Hulanicki. (For more info about her, check out her website at www.barbarahulanickidesign.com.)

In the manuscript I work with the idea that the body has only a limited number of mechanical actions of which it is capable, and that all poses, be they simple or complex, are made up of combinations of those actions. It is possible to use simpler poses to refine and develop these actions, creating opening, flexibility and stamina in the body which can then be taken on to much more complex poses.

In the article we will work through a complete blueprint of all the mechanical actions of the pose, with variations to highlight and emphasize each.

Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose) is given as a beginner pose, but its simplicity can offer even the advanced practitioner the opportunity to delve deep into the actions of the body. It can be taken as its most obvious category, a standing pose, but it can also be taken as any of these:

1) A forward extension, requiring a full stretch of the legs and full range of motion in the hip socket as the pelvis tilts over the thigh bone. The trunk itself must also extend (the back ribs must come into the trunk and the chest stay open) lest it collapse forward.

2) A hip opener, as the front thigh must turn out as much as possible to organize the hip socket and allow for the most optimal lateral tilt of the pelvis.

3) A twist, as the pelvis and trunk must rotate slightly down towards the floor while coming into the pose and requiring a compensatory upward rotation to bring it back to its lateral extension.

4) A backward extension, as the sacrum must absorb, the shoulder blades must come into the back, the back ribs into the trunk and the chest must stay open lest the trunk collapse forward.

The specific body actions we will be looking at in Utthita Trikonasana are the following:

Coordinating the arms and legs to lengthen the trunk
Uniform stretching of the arms and trunk
Rotating the trunk
Stretching the legs
Extending through the big toe mound
Grounding through the heel
Outwardly rotating the thigh
Lengthening the outer thigh/outer hip away from the trunk
Shoulder action with arms to the side
Lateral extension with twisting action

I hope this will help you refine your pose and give you ideas as to how to better integrate Utthita Trikonasana into your practice.

Click here for the fully illustrated article in printable PDF form.