Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) is a basic standing pose, and the third pose pictured in B.K.S. Iyengar's Light on Yoga, after Tadasana (Mountain Pose) and Vrksasana (Tree Pose). In Iyengar Yoga, standing poses form the basis for asana practice. These poses must be learned first because they have important skills to teach us which come in handy later in our practice. Senior Iyengar Yoga teacher Patricia Walden describes standing poses as "money in the bank" for more intermediate and advanced poses.
Of course, standing poses can help teach the other families of poses as well: forward extensions, lateral extensions, inversions, and backward extensions. Asanas are usually linked to one another to form a practice sequence, but what about linking asana to the next of the eight limbs of practice, pranayama? Geeta Iyengar, B.K.S.'s daughter, described standing poses as the basis for a pranayama practice because they teach us how to lift energy, or prana, from the base of the body upward. If the body's store of energy is stagnant and unflowing, it cannot be harnessed in pranayama. Standing poses break up the stiffness, dullness, and hardness in the physical body, allowing prana to flow. Maybe that's why we feel so great after a good yoga class!
Ready to get your Triangle on? Here are B.K.S. Iyengar's instructions from Light on Yoga [with a few additions.] You may hear some of these instructions in your friendly neighborhood Iyengar Yoga class. Keep in mind that these instructions are also applicable to other standing poses.
Utthita Trikonasana Three
Utthita means extended, stretched. Trikona (tri = three; kona = angle) is a triangle. This standing asana is the extended triangle pose.
1. Stand in Tadasana.
2. Inhale deeply and with a jump [or step] spread the legs apart 3 to 3-1/2 feet. Raise the arms sideways, in line with the shoulders, palms facing down. Keep the arms parallel to the floor.
3. Turn the right foot sideways 90 degrees to the right. Turn the left foot slightly to the right, keeping the left leg stretched from the inside and tightened at the knee.
4. Exhale, bend the trunk sideways to the right, bringing the right palm near the right ankle. If possible, the right palm should rest completely on the floor. [If the right palm does not touch the floor while maintaining length in the right side body, place a block or other prop under the right hand.]
5. Stretch the left arm up, bringing it in line with the right shoulder and extend the trunk. The back of the legs, the back of the chest and the hips should be in a line. Gaze at the thumb of the outstretched left hand. Keep the right knee locked tight by pulling up the knee-cap and keep the right knee facing the toes.
6. Remain in this position for half a minute to a minute, breathing deeply and evenly. Then lift the right palm from the floor. Inhale and return to position 2 above.
7. [Bring the feet parallel to one another.] Now, turn the left foot sideways 90 degrees to the left. Turn the right foot slightly to the left, keeping both knees tight and continue from position 2 to 6, reversing all processes. Hold the posture for the same length of time on the left side. [Then lift the left palm from the floor. Inhale and return to position 2 above.]
8. Exhale and jump [or step] back to Tadasana.
This asana tones up the leg muscles, removes stiffness in the legs and hips, corrects any minor defomity in the legs and allows them to develop evenly. It relieves backaches and neck sprains, strengthens the ankles and develops the chest.
by Sage Harrington