Utthita Trikonasana, Anxiety Relief Twist of Extended Triangle Pose

Author: Randeep Singh / go to all Techniques of Yoga articles

Utthita means ‘extended’ or ‘stretched out’.

Tri means three, kona means angle,

and asana means posture.

Trikona, therefore refer to a triangle shape.

Structurally, triangle is known to be

the most stable shape.

Utthita Trikonasana forms a perfect equilateral triangle,

in which the space between the feet is kept almost

equal to the length of the legs of the practitioner. It is also known as the extended triangle pose.

Utthita Trikonasana Steps

We will learn the technique of doing the extended triangle pose in three stages. 

Stage 1 – Utthita Hasta Padasana

  • Begin by standing in mountain pose
  • Inhaling jump, or step sideways to create a distance of around 3.5 feet (approximate length of the legs of an average person) between the feet, also known as abduction of hips or legs
  • Keep the feet parallel to each other and pointed in front
  • Keep the knees activates / lifted, trunk and chest lifted, and thighs pulled backward
  • Lift the arms sideways and extend then outward at shoulder level, keep the shoulders down and shoulder blades pulled inwards
  • Keep the arms activated /extended, elbows straight, palms open facing down, fingers extended
  • Neck and head vertically straight and the vision is directed straight ahead

Stage 2 – Parsva Hasta Padasana

  1. From Utthita Hasta Padasana turn the right leg, thigh and the foot 90 degree to the right
  2. Turn the left foot and the thigh 45 degrees inward
  3. Keep the middle of the thigh, knee, and ankle in a straight line
  4. As the right leg rotates to the right, turn the abdomen slightly to the left to prevent the trunk from following the foot to the right
  5. Keep the head, midline of the neck, center of the chest, and the naval in one line
  6. Keep both sides of the waist equally lifted

Stage – 3 Utthita trikonasana (Extended Triangle pose)

  1. From Parsva Hasta Padasana, exhaling, extend the trunk to the right by stretching the extended right arm in the same direction while maintain the height of the right and left arms throughout, now bend the trunk from the hip joint, not from the waist, to the right (keeping the trunk, arms, and legs in the same vertical plane and both the sides of the trunk equally extended) in an effort to place the right hand down on the right shin
  2. Ground the left leg properly by pressing in the entire sole of the left foot into the floor / mat
  3. The left hip can shift forward a bit, press the tail bone down towards the left heel
  4. The left arm remains extended upwards, palm facing forward, keeping in line with the right arm, and the shoulders, keep both the arms and the legs straight
  5. The fingers of the left hand must be kept extended together with the thumb extended outwards at right angle to the fingers
  6. Twist upwards from the abdomen by turning the chest towards the ceiling, turn the head up and look at the left thumb, stay in this posture as long as comfortable (minimum of 6 seconds) while keeping the breath suspended
  7. Inhaling, first come back to Parshva Hasta Padasana, and then to Utthita Hasta Padasana
  8. Repeat on the other side, this is one round
Utthita trikonasna

Utthita Trikonasana  Variations

Variation – 1

Begin from the basic final position of Utthita Trikonasana,  instead of  keeping the left hand raise vertically upward lower it over the left ear, keeping the arm extented as before, til it becomes parallel to the floor, plam facing down. Loo up at the left hand. Inhaling, return to Utthita Hasta Padasana and drop the arms down beside the trunk while exhaling.

Repeat ong the other side.

Variation – 2 (Revolving Triangle pose)

Get into Utthita Hasta  Padasana, exhaling bend forward from the hips, keeping the arms stretched out in a straight line with the shoulders, twist the trunk from the abdomen and towards the right, place the left hand on the right big toe, keep the right hand extended vertically upward, look at the right hand. 

Stay into this posture with the breath suspended for atleast 6 seconds, realese the posture by untwisting and then raising the trunk back to the Utthita Hasta Padasana. Repeat on the other side.

Breathing Pattern – Extented Triangle Pose

Inhale (3 seconds) while raising both the arms  in a T shape with the body, at the shoulder level, exhale (3 seconds) while bending sideways (as in Utthita Trikonasana final posture) or while bending forward and twisting the trunk to the side (Revolving triangale Pose), stay in the final position for 6 seconds, Release the pose while inhaling (3 seconds) and returning bac to the starting position. 

Alignment Essentials and Modifications

Apart from adhering to the alignment essentials given here one must also follow the general principles of alignment in yoga in order to extract maximum benefits from practicing Utthita Trikonasana.

  • Persons suffering from sciatica pain can bend the knee of the leg which  is turned outwards
  • Make sure that the spine is prevented from bending forward, the pose is intended to be a lateral bend of the spine
  • In order to maintain the intended alignment the pose must be initially practiced with the lower hip, shoulders,  and head pressed against the wall
  • The extended arms must be maintained perpendicular to the spine throughout the practice of the pose, this can help alleviate stress
  • Equally elongate both the sides of the torso while bending laterally while reaching out for the foot turned outwards
  • In case any neck issues are present,  gaze down at a point on the floor instead of turning the head up towards the vertically extended arm
  • Avois hyperextending the knee of the leg whichis turned out, avoid keeping the same hand directly over the knee joint
  • The heel of the foor that is turned outwards must be kept aligned to the arch of the other foot
  • If the body allows, intensify the poses by  sliding the hand from the shin on the floor directly under, behind the shin, this will intensify the lateral bend as the opposite vertically extended arm’s shoulder is pulled downwards, try to press the entire palm on the floor
  • If possible grab the big toes of the foot which is turned out with the index finger of the corresponding hand and try to touch the same elbow to the knee, this will generate an intense stretch on to the hamstring muscles
  • Gather knowledge about  how to properly engage one’s attitude, action, and alignment while practicing a yoga posture
  • In case the lower hand isnt reaching the ground  while the posture is kept aligned to the vertica plane  place the lower hand on a block placed exactly under the position of th elower hand
  • In case imbalanced is experienced move one foot forward or backward to break them out of the same plane alignment

Common Faults – Utthita Trikonasana

  • Knee (s) are bent
  • Body is leaning forward or backward
  • Head not in line with the spine
  • Upper arm is bent
  • Front foot is not aligned with the back foot
  • Weight is mainly on one leg, rather than being evenly distributed
  • Weight is placed against the thigh by the lower hand

Contraindications – Extended Triangle Pose

Avoid practicing Utthita Trikonasana in case these conditions are present.

  • Back problems
  • Low blood pressure
  • headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Cardiac issues – can practice bu keeping the upper hand on the hip by standing against the wall
  • Hypertension – can practice by turning the head downwards and gazing on the floor, lower the upper  hand and place it on the hip
  • Neck issues – can practice by keeping the gaze stright ahead and keeping both the sides of the neck extended equally
  • Any hip or shoulders injury
  • Experiencing headache or a boout of migraine
  • Slipped disc condition, any injury or recent sugery  of the knee joint

Focal Movements – Utthita Trikonasana

Hip flexion and lateral flexion of the spinewith external hip rotation. Feel the strength of the quadriceps, upper thighs, especially the rectus femoris muscle, sides of the abdomen (abdominis oblique), and the muscles of the sides of the neck (sternocleidomastoid).  Keep the attention on the stretching of the inner (adductors), and the back of the thighs (hamstrings muscle). 

Body Reading – Utthita Trikonasana

If the abdomen is bulging out and the hips are swaying backward it may be due to the tightness in the hip flexors (Psoas and rectus femoris muscles). If one experiences in aligning the head to the thoracic spine, it would be due to the weakness in the muscles of the neck. The head may drop or rise in an exxagerated fashion depending upon which side of the neck is weak.

Utthita Trikonasana Benefits

  • Regular practice of Extended Triangle Pose will help tone the entire body, especially the sides of the torso, waist, and back of the legs (hamstring muscles)
  • It stimulates the nervous system, and helps alleviate depression,  due to its effectiveness in dissipating stress it is a must include in the yoga for healing depression
  • It is good for digestion, and helps alleviate constipatiom
  • It helps stimulate the appetite and is thus a very effective yoga posture to be included in  one’s yoga regime for iincreased appetite for weight gain
  • It helps reduce the fat deposits around waist
  • It strenghtens the pelvic region and helps tone the reproductive organs,  it is a good recommend for the yoga program for reproductive health
  • It helps tone the spinal nerves and rejuvenate the abdominal organs
  • It stimulates the secretions of the liver and the spleen
  • The lateral stretch it provides to the spine helps maintain the elasticity of the spine
  • It tones the outer thighs as it stretches the inner thighs,  it is a very effective technique to incorporate in the yoga for thighs regime
  • The arms are opened and lengthened which help tone the lower Trapezius muscle
  • Those who suffer from the shortening of the legs due to fracture of hip or thigh bone or bones of the leg will be benefitted with this asana
  • It strengthens the deep external rotators of the hip, improving sitting postures
  • It  is a good preparatory pose for inverted asanas
  • It helps improve the concentration power of the mind
  • It help strengthen the knees and the ankles
  • Regular practice of Utthita Trikonasana helps relieve the discomfort associated with menopause, It can help immensely if included in the yoga for relieving menopause symptoms program
  • It helps relieve backache in advanced pregnancy
  • It benefits by relieving anxiety, sciatica pain, osteoporosis, and flat feet
  • It helps improve balance, and opens up the chest (heart Plexus) and the shoulders , thus helps improve lung capacity
  • Regular practice of Extended Triangle Pose benefits by improving the over all blood circulation in the body