How to Do Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana) in Yoga

Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

triangle pose
Photo: Ben Goldstein / Model: Ana Alarcon

Also Known As: Extended Triangle Pose

Targets: Hamstrings, hips, groin, chest (opener)

Level: Beginner

Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana) is a foundation yoga pose across almost every different style of yoga. You will almost certainly encounter it within your first few yoga classes and for years to come. Its relatively simple set-up belies its power as a stretch for the hamstrings. Establishing the foundation of the pose with grounded feet and strong legs allows the chest to twist deeply and blossom open.

Benefits

Triangle Pose strengthens the legs and stretches the groin, hamstrings, and hips, and opens the chest and shoulders. It also challenges and improves balance and stability.

Instructions

There are many ways to come into Triangle. Entering from Warrior II works well because your feet are already in the correct position. You shouldn't need to widen or narrow your stance for this transition. So, from Warrior II, straighten your front leg (the right leg in this case).

  1. Engage your right thigh muscles and draw your right femur into its socket. Extend your right hand toward the front of the room, keeping your right hip tucked.
  2. Lower your right hand down onto your shin or ankle. If you are more open, bring your right hand to the floor on the inside or on the right foot. Do whichever one feels most comfortable.
  3. The left shoulder stacks on top of the right one as you open your chest, reaching your left fingertips toward the ceiling while keeping your left shoulder rooted in its socket. 
  4. Turn your head to take your gaze up toward your left fingertips. If this is uncomfortable for your neck, it's also fine to keep the head in a more neutral position. 
  5. Continue to draw your right thigh muscles upward, deepening the crease in your right hip.
  6. Soften your right knee slightly to prevent hyperextension (this is called a microbend).
  7. Stay for at least 5 breaths.
  8. Repeat the pose with your left leg forward.

Common Mistakes

Resist the temptation to bend your right knee in order to get your right hand to the floor. Keeping your right leg straight is more important. Placing a block on the floor under your hand is also an option.

Do not rest your hand directly on your knee as this puts too much pressure on the joint.

Make sure that the right heel is lined up with the arch of the left foot.

Modifications and Variations

Given that this yoga pose is one you'll encounter again and again, don't give up on it if you find it difficult at first. Consider a modification and, once you have the pose down, change things up to increase the difficulty and push yourself.

Need A Modification?

It's fine to bring your right hand higher up your leg if that allows you to open your chest more, as long as does not rest directly on your knee. You can use a yoga block as a rest for your lower hand as an alternative.

Up for a Challenge?

  • Try dropping the left arm over the left ear so it comes parallel to the floor while keeping the shoulder rooting into the socket.
  • Wrap your left arm behind your back and take hold of your inner right thigh with your left hand. This creates traction, which allows you to open your chest toward the sky even more. 
  • To work on your balance and engage your core, take the weight out of your right hand, hovering it above the floor.

Safety and Precautions

Avoid this pose if you have an injury to your back, neck, hips, or shoulders. You may wish to avoid it if you have a headache or migraine.

Try It Out

Incorporate this move and similar ones into one of these popular workouts:

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