• T
  • H
  • M
  • Utthita Trikonasana
    Using Triangle Pose to Strengthen the Side of the Body

    utthita trikonasana (triangle pose), grabbing the big toe and looking up, Neil Keleher, sensational yoga poses

    The two traditional ways to do utthita trikonasana (triangle yoga pose) are to either grab on to the big toe in this triangle shaped yoga pose or to rest the bottom hand on the floor. In either case the legs are about a legs length apart with one foot turned in slightly and the other foot (the "reference" foot) turned out 90 degrees.

    In both versions of this yoga pose the torso is leaned over the front leg.

    One advantage of the "big toe grabbing" version is that it enourages you do be a bit more active in the pose.

    Rather than using your arm to help support your body, in the big toe version you can focus on using your leg and waist muscles to help support the weight of your upper body. They'll get stronger as a result.

    Using a Strap

    In Ashtanga yoga the usual method of doing utthita trikonasana is to grab the toe. This can be problematic if you haven't got the necessary flexibility but want to grab the toe and keep your torso over your leg.

    An option is to hook a strap around the foot and grab on to that. Using a strap, you could give the strap a little bit of slack, then pull your torso up to take out the slack. Then relax and let your torso sink down a little. As you do so, reach a little further down the strap then repeat, gradually moving your hand closer to your foot each time.

    Why Grab the Big Toe?

    Now why grab the toe when doing utthita trikonasana in the first place? One reason is that you can push down with the toe while pulling up on the arm using the legs and waist. This can actually be a way to strengthen the fingers, the arm, the waist, the si joint, the toe, the foot and the back of the leg. The foot presses down and the torso and arm pull up. So then, how crucial is it that you keep your torso over your leg?

    Is It Okay to Lean Forwards?

    utthita trikonasana (triangle pose), leaning forwards to grab big toe, Neil Keleher, sensational yoga poses
    utthita trikonasana (triangle pose), grabbing big toe with torso over the leg, Neil Keleher, sensational yoga poses

    If your torso is over your leg and your pelvis and ribcage facing "the front", then pulling up on the torso in utthita trikonasana will work work on the waist and lower back. So if you bend forwards to grab the toe and then pull up while staying leaned forwards there can still be some strengthening benefits. You can still resist with the toe while pulling upwards with the body. The effect will be slightly different but you can still be strengthening the body.

    Not Grabbing the Toe

    Another option is to not grab the toe and hold the body up against gravity. You can then keep your torso aligned over your reference leg.

    utthita trikonasana (triangle pose), modification for people who can't grab their big toe, Neil Keleher, sensational yoga poses
    utthita trikonasana (triangle pose), modification for people who can't grab their big toe, Neil Keleher, sensational yoga poses
    utthita trikonasana (triangle pose), modification for people who can't grab their big toe, Neil Keleher, sensational yoga poses

    To increase the strengthening effect you can reach your arms past your head.

    An easy way to enter this variation of the utthita trikonasana is to start with your hand resting on your leg. Brace one or both legs so that you can easily lift the hand while keeping your torso over your leg. From there reach one arm past the head. Then when you are ready reach the other arm. If you find it is too much you can reach the arms while inhaling and support your body by resting your hand on your leg while exhaling.

    To Tuck or Not to Tuck the Tailbone

    Should your tailbone be tucked when doing utthita trikonasana, or should it be lifted?

    utthita trikonasana (triangle pose), tailbone down lumbar spine slightly flattened, Neil Keleher, sensational yoga poses
    utthita trikonasana (triangle pose), tailbone lifted, lumbar curve maintained, Neil Keleher, sensational yoga poses

    If, while standing, you lift your tailbone, the result is an increased lumbar lordosis and the pelvis tilted forwards. Doing the opposite results in a decreased or flattened lumbar lordosis and the pelvis tilted rearwards.

    I like to play with both options.

    If you lift the tailbone your lumbar lordosis will increase, particularly if you work at keeping your ribcage over your leg. Meanwhile dropping the tailbone decreases or flattens the lumbar lordosis. Is one better than the other? I'd suggest that both of these are options.

    For myself, the tailbone lifted position with the lower back bent slightly backwards feels better, but note, if you play with the extremes, and move between them you can feel and find for yourself the position that feels just right. Part of the reason that I know it feels right is because I've practiced moving smoothly between both extremes. I suggest you do the same.

    Gripping and GrabbingOptions

    If you can grab the toe and you find that your hand gets tired it may be time to experiment with wrist position. You may find that it is easier to keep a grip if you cock your wrist, so that the muscle of your palm and fingers have more room to contract.

    As for grabbing the toe, you can try lifting the forefoot to make grabbing easier. Then work at pressing the forefoot down (below).

    utthita trikonasana (triangle pose), lifting front of foot to grab big toe, Neil Keleher, sensational yoga poses
    utthita trikonasana (triangle pose), lifting front of foot to grab big toe, Neil Keleher, sensational yoga poses

    Or you can try starting with the knee bent. Move your torso close to your thigh and grab the toe. Pull your torso up while resisting with the big toe, then straighten the knee.

    utthita trikonasana (triangle pose), bending knee to grab big toe, Neil Keleher, sensational yoga poses
    utthita trikonasana (triangle pose), bending knee to grab big toe, Neil Keleher, sensational yoga poses

    Return to Home Page from Utthita Trikonasana

    Return to Yoga For Strength

    Improve Strength and Flexibility

    Yoga for Strength

    Basic Stability

    Arm Strength

    Back and Core Strength

    Leg Strengthening

    Yoga and Weights/Kettlebells

    What's New?

    Transverse Abdominal Exercises

    The transverse abdominis muscle can be broken down into three parts. Transverse abdominal exercises can thus affect the SI Joint, lumbar spine and the lower portion of the ribcage.

    Continue reading "Transverse Abdominal Exercises"

    Knee Strengthening Exercises

    To improve the resiliency of your knees it can help to exercise them in a variety of positions. The following yoga poses can be used as knee strengthening exercises. The trick is to activate your knees while doing them.

    Continue reading "Knee Strengthening Exercises"

    Quads and Superficial Hip Flexors

    Learn to consciously control your quads and hip flexors with Conscious Muscle Control: Quads and Superficial Hip Flexors. This downloadable video course teaches you how to feel and activate your quadriceps (the vastus muscles) as well as the rectus femoris, tensor fascae latae and sartorius muscles.

    Continue reading "Quads and Superficial Hip Flexors"

    Calf Stretches

    For any calf stretch you have to bend your ankle forwards to stretch the soleus and/or gastrocnemius. How you bend the ankle forwards can make the stretch more or less effective.

    Continue reading "Calf Stretches"

    Yoga for Flexibility

    Yoga for flexibility with stretches for the hips, quads, hamstrings, glutes, psoas, shoulders and arms. These yoga stretches are designed to improve flexiblity.

    Continue reading "Yoga for Flexibility"

    Learning to Activate Hamstrings and Glutes

    Glute and Hamstring activation can be used to compliment the quad and hip flexors for a balanced practice. Conscious Muscle Control: Hamstrings and Glutes is a video course designed to teach you how to activate your glutes and hamstrings at will. You'll also develop the ability to feel them activate and relax.

    Continue reading "Learning to Activate Hamstrings and Glutes"

    Learning to Activate Hamstrings and Glutes

    Glute and Hamstring activation can be used to compliment the quad and hip flexors for a balanced practice. Conscious Muscle Control: Hamstrings and Glutes is a video course designed to teach you how to activate your glutes and hamstrings at will. You'll also develop the ability to feel them activate and relax.

    Continue reading "Learning to Activate Hamstrings and Glutes"

    Learning to Activate your Quads and Superficial Hip Flexors

    Learn how to activate your quads and hip flexors so that you can use them at will. Conscious Muscle Control: Quads and Superficial Hip Flexors not only teaches you how to activate and relax your quads and hip flexors at will, it also teaches you how to feel when they are active and when they are relaxed. This clearly defined awareness can help you get more in touch with your body.

    Continue reading "Learning to Activate your Quads and Superficial Hip Flexors"

    Arm Supported Yoga Poses

    Arm supported yoga poses can be used to strengthen the arms and shoulders. Includes plank, chaturanga dandasana, downward dog, dolphin pose, side plank, wheel, reverse plank, table top pose.

    Continue reading "Arm Supported Yoga Poses"

    Stability in Yoga Poses

    Make your yoga poses less wobbly with less effort. Grounding and centering are two techniques for creating stability in yoga poses.

    Continue reading "Stability in Yoga Poses"

    Exercises in Muscle Control

    Exercises in muscle control 1 teachers you how to activate and relax your knees, hips, front and back of the leg and also inner and outer thighs. These activations can be used in standing poses as leg strenghtening exercises and to improve flexiblity.

    Continue reading "Exercises in Muscle Control"

    Transverse Abdominus Anatomy for Yoga Teachers

    The transverse abdominus muscle can affect the SI joint, lumbar and lower thoracic spine stability, used in various diaphragmatic breathing techniques and act as a tension adjuster for the rectus abdominus.

    Continue reading "Transverse Abdominus Anatomy for Yoga Teachers"

    Effectively Activating Transverse Abdominus

    Effectively Activating Transverse Abdominus can mean better stability for the SI Joint as well as for the lumbar and lower thoracic spine.

    Continue reading "Effectively Activating Transverse Abdominus"

    Joint Pain Yoga

    Rather than fighting through joint pain here is an overview of the approach that I've used to help alleviate hip pain, knee pain or shoulder joint pain while doing yoga poses.

    Continue reading "Joint Pain Yoga"

    Feeling Your Center of Gravity

    Make balancing easier. Use pressure sensitivity to feel your center of gravity.

    Continue reading "Feeling Your Center of Gravity"

    Camel Yoga Pose

    Camel Yoga Pose or ustrasana is a kneeling pose that can be used to stretch the hip flexors. One key action that may help in getting your pelvis forwards more is pushing your hands forwards, either against your feet or against the floor.

    Continue reading "Camel Yoga Pose"

    How to do Squats

    A yoga approach to how to do squats including how to stay balanced, and avoiding knee or hip pain even while going all the way down.

    Continue reading "How to do Squats"

    Transverse Abdominis and Sacroiliac Joint Stability

    The transverse abdominis can have an affect on sacroiliac joint stability as well as stability of the lumbar spine and the T12/L1 junction.

    Continue reading "Transverse Abdominis and Sacroiliac Joint Stability"

    Fluid Tensegrity Joint Anatomy

    Fluid tensegrity joint anatomy looks at the tendency of the body to maintain space within the joints. The question is, how is this space maintained?

    Continue reading "Fluid Tensegrity Joint Anatomy"

    Why Improve Body Awareness

    Why improve body awareness? So that you can use your body more effectively and fix problems yourself when they arise.

    Continue reading "Why Improve Body Awareness"