The Triangle Pose is the first standing pose that everyone learns in most yoga traditions.
(Pronounced as "oo-TEE-tah treek-cone-AHS-anna")
The Sanskrit word utthita means "extended," and trikona means "three angles" or "triangle." In this pose, you form three 90-degree triangles with your body. Your legs create a triangle above the floor, your arm makes a triangle with your forward leg, and the top of your raised hand forms a triangle with your feet.
Stand up straight with your feet together on your mat in Tadasana. Breathe in and jump your feet almost 4 feet apart as you breathe out. Lift your arms out to your sides, keeping your hands at shoulder level with palms facing the floor. Tuck your shoulder blades into your back and lift up your sternum.
Turn your right foot out 90 degrees to the right side. Then turn your left foot about 45 degrees to the right. Look down and adjust your heels so that they are in a straight line with each other. Straighten both of your legs. Rotate your right thigh so that the center of your right knee cap is in line with the center of your right ankle. Rotate your left thigh out and away from your groin to prevent your left knee from bending.
Breathe in and expand your chest. When you breathe out, bend your trunk down to your right side while pushing hard from your left heel behind you. Extend your torso from the hips. Try to press your right palm into the floor next to the outside edge of your right foot. If you do not have the flexibility to reach down that far, then you can also place your fingertips on the floor, grab your right ankle or hold onto your lower right shin instead.
Keeping your left arm extending straight up from your shoulder, reach your left fingertips up toward the ceiling. Hold the back of your chest, your hips and the back of your legs in a straight line. Twist your torso enough that you feel your lungs are stacked directly on top of each other.
You can hold your head in a neutral position if you have a stiff neck. Otherwise, turn your head up to look at your left thumb in the air right above you.
Hold this posture without locking your knees, but keep both of your thighs active. Stay here for at least 30 seconds, or you can also hold it for up to one minute. To come out, exhale and press down firmly on your left heel to help you lift yourself back up. Now repeat the posture on the opposite side, holding it for the same amount of time.
If you find it hard to balance while bending to the side, then brace your back heel against a wall for extra support.
To get a deeper stretch in your legs and hips, place a yoga block on the floor next to the outside of your front foot. When you bend to the side, put your hand on the block for support and use this position to roll your shoulders open even more and rotate your chest further up.
Once you have more experience with this pose, then you can line up your front heel with the middle of the arch in your back foot. Then after you bend to the side, deliberately push your raised arm up straight and back behind your torso to try to get the deepest twist possible in your upper body. Once you have reached the maximum twist in your torso, then try to hold your chest in this new position as you bring your raised arm back into a straight line with your shoulder.
To get a deeper stretch in your shoulder, go into full Triangle Pose and then stretch your raised arm over your ear, making your hand parallel with the floor.
Ask a partner to help you feel how to extend your torso while bending from your hips instead of collapsing your waist down. Have them put a belt around your hips right above the crease where your thigh meets your hip bone. They should hold both ends of the belt in their hands and stand on your left side if you are bending to the right. As you exhale and bend down to the side, have them pull slightly on the belt in your forward hip crease. Lengthen the underside of your torso forward to stretch against the resistance you feel from the belt.
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