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Yoga Triangle Pose (Utthitta Trikonasana)

Developing Leg Strength, Stability and Control
Categories/Tags: Standing Poses
Yoga triangle pose (utthitta trikonasana) with the bottom hand grabbing the big toe, Sensational Yoga Poses, Neil Keleher

In yoga triangle pose:

  • The feet are separated about a leg's length with one foot turned in slightly and the other foot turned out 90 degrees.
  • Both feet are flat on the floor and both knees are straight.
  • The body is tilted towards the "turned-out" foot with the ribcage over the leg.
  • Both the ribcage and pelvis "face the front".

Entering Triangle Yoga Pose

When entering the pose the first thing I have my students do is set up their feet.

  • Turn the back foot in slightly.
  • Then turn the front foot out 90 degrees.
    (The front foot is the foot you tilt towards.)
  • From there the next step is to tilt the pelvis towards the turned out foot.
  • The ribcage naturally follows the tilt of the pelvis and ends up leaning over the leg.

Entering into yoga triangle pose starting with feet separated with one foot turned out 90 degrees and the other foot turned in. Sensational Yoga Poses Neil Keleher
Entering into triangle pose starting with feet separated with one foot turned out 90 degrees and the other foot turned in with the pelvis tilted towards the turned out foot. Sensational Yoga Poses Neil Keleher

Be Aware of Where Your Torso is With Respect To Your Front Leg

With respect to your leg, it can be easy to lean forwards. For a deeper side stretch work at keeping your torso over your leg. You can get used to this gradually by moving back and forwards between the two positions (torso over the leg, torso leaning forwards). You could even synchronize this action with your breath.

  • Each inhale pull your torso back so that it is over your leg.
  • Each exhale, allow your torso to lean forwards.
Yoga triangle pose with the torso leaning forwards. Sensational Yoga Poses, Neil Keleher
Yoga Triangle pose viewed from the side with the torso over the front leg, Sensational Yoga Poses, Neil Keleher.

The Ashtanga Yoga Version of Triangle Pose

In ashtanga yoga the usual instruction for triangle pose (or utthitta trikonasana) is to grab the big toe with the first two fingers and thumb of the lower hand. Holding onto the big toe with the bottom hand you can then focus on pulling the ribcage upwards, away from the leg. At the same time you reach up with the top arm and look up towards the top thumb.

An Alternative Way to Do Triangle Pose

An alternative for triangle pose is to focus on gradually letting the ribcage sink down without worrying about grabbing the big toe.

To begin with start with the hand on the thigh or shin with the elbow straight.

yoga triangle pose with the top hand on the waist and the bottom hand resting on the ankle, Neil Keleher, Sensaitonal Yoga Poses.

Slowly bend the elbow to let your ribcage sink down. Then brace your leg, and lift your hand off of your shin. Do this while inhaling and to rest, put the hand back on your shin while exhaling. As you get used to supporting your upper body using only your legs, you can add weight to the pose by reaching first one hand and then both hands to the side.

Initially you might choose to lift the hand while inhaling and support the ribcage with the bottom hand while exhaling. But then you can simply hold yoga triangle pose with both hands reaching past the head and focus on breathing slowly and smoothly.

Yoga triangle pose with the top arm reaching over the head past the ear and the bottom hand on the floor behind the foot, neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.
Yoga triangle pose with both arms reaching past the head to the side, neil keleher, sensational yoga poses.

Rather than keeping the ribcage lifted let it sink gradually towards your leg.

Additional Actions for Yoga Triangle Pose

While holding this version of triangle pose

  • Work at lengthening your spine by drawing your ribs away from your pelvis so that your waist feels long.
  • Reach your arms past your ears in such a way that your arms also feel long.
  • And draw your ears away from your ribcage (or shoulders) so that the sides of your neck feels long also.

Note that as you sink deeper, instead of having to place your hand on your shin you can place it on the floor behind your leg.

You may also be interested in revolved (twisted) triangle

Muscle Control and More Flexible Hamstrings

For some simple stabilizing techniques you can use in this and other poses check out the ebook: Yoga for Beginners 1.

If you prefer learning via videos, the Extreme Stability for Yoga provides a different way of stabilizing the legs, working from ground up.


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