Much-loved trikonasana is one of those poses that’s more complicated than it looks. Which becomes apparent when you do it.
And whether you’re doing it “right” has more to do with which lineage or style of yoga you follow than the particulars of the pose itself.
In some styles, the feet are further apart, the foot alignment varies, the rotation of the hips is different and how the spine looks changes as well.
The trikonasana we’re showing here is influenced by the Ashtanga lineage. The feet are a little closer together and aligned heel to heel, the back leg is rotating inward and the spine is lengthening.
However, to be truly an “Ashtanga version,” Rupali would be including a yogic toe grip (first two fingers of the bottom hand around the big toe of the forward foot).
Chances are good you learned a different version of trikonasana. I think it’s important to remember, it’s not right or wrong—just different.
Regardless of the lineage you follow, trikonasana is highly beneficial for the whole body.
And it never fails to boggle my mind how much is going on in this one beautiful pose.
This becomes obvious when you attempt to teach trikonasana to a beginning yoga student. The chest will likely drift forward, the hips will sway backwards, the head will droop a bit and well, you get the idea.
Pattabhi Jois used to say that it takes a thousand repetitions of a pose before you truly master it. Trikonasana might take even more.
Below are some additional details about this asana…as usual, download this tip sheet at the bottom of this post.
- utthita = extended
- trikona = three angles
- asana = seat
- Improves spinal flexibility and can reduce low back pain.
- Twisting the torso relieves indigestion.
- Massages abdominal and pelvic organs.
- Improves posture.
- Reduces neck stiffness.
- Strengthens the legs and core of the body.
- Low back or neck injuries
- Eye strain
- Extreme fatigue (it’s a pose requiring whole-body strength).
- Lower gaze to horizon or floor if upward gaze creates neck strain.
- Can place upper hand on hip if top shoulder gets fatigued or is tender.
- Top arm can slide behind back (hand catching thigh) for nice shoulder stretch.
- Adjust depth of pose by moving hand up the leg and by bending the front knee slightly.
- Try setting up with the backside of the body against a wall—touch back heel, hip, shoulders, head and top hand to the wall to feel the opening without having to work at balancing.
- Grounded, expansive openness
There are lots of opinions about the details of utthita trikonasana, but we tend to think those aren’t as important as finding steadiness and ease within your own trikonasana.
If breath guides your way, you’ll find yourself moving towards a beautiful alignment that fits your unique body. And that might change over the seasons of the year or the course of your life.
What you can do next
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