Yoga Pose of the Month: Utthita Trikonasana

New to yoga? Don't get lost in the flow. Taking on a new pose can make you uncomfortable,feel off balance and awkward. To help ease your discomfort, here's a cheat sheet to a common pose in most yoga practices: Utthita Trikonasana, otherwise known as extended triangle pose.

Utthita Trikonasana is an element in yoga known as opposition of force. You want to resist the force of gravity by equally distributing the energy flow in opposing directions. For example, as your right arm reaches toward the ground, the left arm actively reaches up toward the sky so you don't collapse. Also, as your hips reach back, the crown of the head stretches forward. You can also practice grounding into the feet while twisting the torso open and upward creating a perfect triangle.

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Whether you're looking to perfect your yoga posture or want a good post-workout stretch, extended triangle pose is a posture for all levels that strengthens the legs, stretches the shoulder, relieves back pain, and lowers anxiety.

Utthita Trikonasana: Extended Triangle Pose

Extended Triangle Pose 

How to:

Begin standing with your feet 3 to 4 feet apart. Turn the left foot in slightly to the right and turn the right foot out to the right 90 degrees. Align the right heel with the left arch if possible. Engage the thighs, raise your arms parallel to the floor and reach them actively out to the sides, spread your shoulder blades wide, and face palms down.

Inhale, gaze over right fingertips. Exhale and drop your torso over right leg. Bend from the hip joint, not the waist. Place the right hand on or outside of the shin or ankle. To modify, you can use a block to prop your hand up.

Stretch the left arm up toward the sky, directly above the top of shoulder with the palm facing forward. If possible, turn the head upward and let your eyes gaze at the left thumb. Otherwise, gaze toward the floor if your neck feels strained.

Press the outer edge of left foot firmly to the floor to stabilize. Actively reach forward through the crown of the head and rotate the torso open to the left to lengthen. Let the left hip come slightly forward and lengthen the tailbone toward the back heel. Stay in this pose for five or more breath cycles and inhale back to center. Switch sides and repeat on the left.

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Benefits:

  • Stretches and strengthens the thighs, knees and ankles.
  • Stretches the hips, groins, hamstrings, calves, shoulders, chest and spine.
  • Stimulates abdominal organs and improves digestion.
  • Helps relieve backache and stress.
  • Therapeutic for anxiety, flat feet, infertility, neck pain, osteoporosis and sciatica.

Contraindications

  • Headache
  • Low blood pressure
  • Heart condition: Practice against the wall with top arm on hip.
  • High blood pressure: Turn your gaze down.
  • Neck problems: Turn your gaze down.

More: Yoga for Newbies: 4 Poses to Get You Started

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