Article submitted by Terri McDermott, E-RYT500, IYTA, SOYA Lead Faculty
utthita = extended, tri = three, kona = angle; trikona = triangle
Many yoga asanas are named after animals and were developed based upon yogis’ observations of them in their environment. Some asanas are named after the Rishis and Sages themselves. And some are named after phenomena of the natural universe as observed by the great yoga masters.
In my research of Utthita Trikonasana, I find that it was described in the 20th century in the teachings of Tirumalai Krishnamacharya in 1934.
Let me share my interpretation of what this beautiful asana means to me! Based on Sacred Geometry, the triangle is a symbol that underlies all sacred shapes (tetrahedron, hexahedron, octahedron, dodecahedron & icosahedron) and symbolizes balance, harmony, completion. Rising upwards, elevating us to Higher Consciousness. To simplify, when I balance myself in preparation for this asana, by reaching out from midline to both my right and left with my arms and legs, I am relying on my total being to bring me to a place of connection between the Mother Earth and the Divine, aligning all 3 (three) of my existences into balances. When in this asana, the formation of 3 (three) triangles is formed. I love to think that one of those triangles is my Stuhla Sharira or physical body, one of those triangles is my Sukshma Sharira or energetic body and the last contains my Karana Sharira or my karmic/seed body. When touching the Earth with one hand, extending my other hand to the Heavens, all three of my existences are connecting in harmony with the Earth and the Universe! Why would that not bring me joy???
Let's experience Utthita Trikonasana
- Begin by planting your feet on the Earth or your mat, become aware of your roots and foundation. Step wide and, again, check in with your foundation. Distribute your weight throughout your feet evenly.
- Inhale the arms up and on the exhale reach out. Seek to center your wrists, palms down, over the ankles.
- Look to your right and soften the shoulders. Engage the core by contracting below the navel.
- Shift the right toes into the same direction as your right fingertips. Shift the left heel towards the back of your mat, leaving your left foot at a 45 degree angle.
- Inhale deeply and on the exhale shift the left hip back, while reaching out with the right arm. Hips and heart remain open.
- Check in with your foundation, assuring that your weight is evenly distributed throughout the feet, core is engaged.
- Without collapsing the torso towards the Earth, shift the arms and stack the shoulders. Some may be able to touch the Earth with the right hand, some rest the right hand on the inside of the right leg, while the left hand reaches towards the Heavens! Alternately, your left arm can rest along your side or place hand on your hip.
- Use your core to stay right where you are without allowing the weight of the body to settle on the leg or the Earth, as this causes collapse of the side body and torso.
- Remember, where your gaze goes, the body follows. If it is available to you, send your gaze to the sky or look straight ahead should one have neck issues.
- Breathe steadily for several breaths in this pose.
- Rest and repeat on the other side. *Please note that this is also a beautiful asana to practice with the stability of a wall behind you when learning to find your foundation within your core and through the feet.
How to exit Uttitha Trikonasana:
- Engage the core, inhale, press into the Earth with the right big toe mound and lift the body back up to standing. Some may need to bend the right knee slightly to rise.
- Turn the toes on both feet towards the long edge of the mat and, as a counter pose, inhale and dive forward into a beautiful wide legged forward fold.
Benefits of the Extended Triangle Pose
In addition to the spiritual benefits mentioned above by T. Krishnamacharya, it is important that I note how wonderful this asana is for our physical body. Utthita Trikonasana tones the leg muscles, removes stiffness from the legs and hips, relieves backaches and neck sprains, strengthens the ankles, stimulates the internal organs and develops the chest. Not to mention it is a fabulous side stretch. It also assists in the development of confidence and will power.
Get lost in the beauty of “BEING” the vessel connecting the Divine and the Earth to your soul! It doesn’t get any better.
Terri McDermott, E-RYT500, IYTA, founder of Svastha and Peaceful Poses.
Terri attended her first yoga classes in an elementary school basement learning yoga from a dedicated mom. That seed took root and continues to grow strong, taking her on a path of spiritual growth and coaxing within her the need to continue to learn about the intricacies of the human body, the mind and spirit. She is currently offering SOYA 200hr and 300hr teacher training programs in online and hybrid formats, and immersions in Michigan and Florida.