Asana From Every Angle: Triangle Pose

by Lauren Black | February 11, 2015 5:53 pm

Triangle pose in a yoga class is like dark chocolate after dinner: delicious and oh, so needed.

Triangle is (thankfully) one of the first poses you learn in yoga. Not only because it fits so well into standing sequences, but it can also easily be modified. And in case I didn’t make it clear, it is amazing. That glorious feeling down the entire side of your body coupled with the (eventual) satisfaction of your hand reaching the floor -it’s doesn’t just look graceful, it’s also challenging and it’s one of my favorite poses to hang out in.

Continuing with our deep look at yoga asanas, we’ll be hearing from a yoga instructor, world-renowned orthopedic surgeon, and a physical therapist on trikonasana, triangle pose.

The basics:

It’s important to note that there are many modifications of this pose as well as variations. For instance, in Bikram yoga, the front knee bends to a 90-degree angle. The consistent pieces, however, are a straight rear leg with the foot turned in about 45 degrees. The toes of the front leg should point towards the front of the mat and the hands reach in opposite directions.

I absolutely prefer the Vinyasa version of this where the front leg is straight and you try to stack the hips on top of each other. We’ll be looking at that version in this article.

A block can be taken under the hand or the student can take their hand to their shin if their hand doesn’t reach the floor quite yet. Beginner students can keep their gaze on the floor to help their balance while the more experienced can look up towards the top hand.

2015-01-18-17.54.01The Yoga Instructor:

Triangle pose is excellent for the outside of the hip and the side waist. To achieve a deeper stretch across the side, it’s important to lengthen the spine forward and bend from where the thigh meets the hips (don’t let the body collapse or bend around the ribcage). It’s a pose that is generally incorporated around midway through the class, after a few sun-salutations.

When focusing on forward bends in a class, students should stretch each hamstring individually, like in triangle pose. This helps them open up the backs of the legs for a deeper forward bend. A common mistake I see in triangle is letting the top hip and shoulder drop forward. When that happens, take a step back and bring your hand up higher on the leg or a block. And don’t forget to tuck those abdominals in!

The Orthopedic Surgeon:

This pose is great for the flexibility of the trunk and the spine. It requires strong core muscles to hold the body up, as well as strength through both legs. It helps to stretch the IT band (outside of the hip) of the upside hip as well as the adductor muscles in the opposing hip. It does require some flexibility in balance to achieve.

A lot of the baseball players I see use this pose as a part of a warm-up. It’s great for any athlete to help warm up the legs and hips.

The Physical Therapist

This isn’t a pose I particularly use in treatment, but I definitely use parts of it. It’s great for stretching the latissimus dorsi, obliques, quadratus lumborum (QL), adductors in the leading leg, and the hamstrings. It also helps strengthen the neck flexors and shoulders for stability.

I have used this sort of stretch for my low back patients to help lengthen their QL (which becomes hypertonic and tight in patients with low back pain and SI instability).

I’ve use the arm motion in this to help stretch the latissimus dorsi with patients who have recently had surgery and the lats have tightened into a shortened position.

The takeaway

We generally think and feel this pose in the hip and the legs, but it turns out to be great for so many parts of the body. It’s important to come into this pose correctly to get the full benefits of the practice. As always with yoga, it’s better to do the pose correctly than force yourself into an incorrect or uncomfortable position. If your hand doesn’t make it to the floor, grab a block. Keep working on it and one day you’ll get that coveted full-palm on the floor.

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