Trikonasana/Triangle Pose Tips

Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) is a great way to practice a lateral bend which stretches and strengthens the muscles on the sides of the torso. I often see people do this this side reach thing going into Trikonasana/Triangle pose. Why? It causes unnecessary strain on the hip joint and SI joint. Here are some tips to get the most out of this pose!

  • Make sure your bottom-side leg is a little bent to shift the work to the spine rather than the legs and hips.
  • Inhale to lift your chest and lengthen your spine, exhale and simply tip down towards your bottom leg and bring your hand to the back side of your knee. As you inhale, contract the side of the waist to come back up.
  • No need to reach to the side first, that puts the sacroiliac joint at risk and locks you out of the lateral bend.

For a more detailed anatomical discussion about the differences of these approaches to Trikonasana, check out this article on Sequence Wiz.

Tri Wrong.jpg

ETA: I just posted this and then I almost immediately find this ad on FB illustrating the NOT A LATERAL BEND version.

One of the most fundamental things about my approach to teaching yoga is that I always have a reason behind what I'm teaching. So this is just a little why behind trikonasana.

In the video, I explain two ways to move into trikonasana: 1) reach towards the down foot, then tip down, or 2) simply tip down. When you reach like that first, you destabilize the SI joint on the top hip, compress the bottom hip, and lock yourself out the the lateral bend of the spine. This isn't necessarily wrong (arguably this stretches the legs and hips in a way that #2 does not), but if your intention behind doing trikonasana is to side bend, you're not going to get that in this approach.

2) Tip down and laterally bend through the waist. You now are exercising the QL and obliques by contracting (bottom side) and stretching (top side). There is less risk to the SI and hip joints.

Now look at the pink arrow in this picture! Her spine is actually in a lateral bend IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION. You can also see at the green arrow, the compression in the bottom hip. Her back knee is hyperextended (blue arrow) which, combined with the position of her spine in this posture, shows me that she has overall a lot of mobility in her joints. Her arms are also long which is why she is able to take this pose into freakytown because even though her hand is down, her shoulders are above the line of her hip.

Some yoga alignment police might say that what's she's doing is "wrong." It's not wrong because, well for one, she's modeling yoga clothes and she sure makes for a cool photo. Her proportions and flexibility make it possible for her to make this shape. HOWEVER. Is she stretching her top side torso and hip muscles? NO.

Want more personalized information? I can work with you one on one to help you understand not just WHAT you're doing in a yoga practice but also WHY.