How to Do the Triangle (Utthita Trikonasana) Posture in Yoga

In Yoga, the Sanskrit word utthita (pronounced oot-hee-tah) means “raised,” and trikona (pronounced tree-ko-nah) means “triangle.” The latter term is often mispronounced as try-ko-nah. The triangle posture stretches the sides of the spine, the backs of the legs, and the hips. It also stretches the muscles between the ribs (the intercostals), which opens the chest and improves breathing capacity.

  1. Stand in the mountain posture, exhale, and step out to the right about 3 to 3 1/2 feet (or the length of one leg) with your right foot.

  2. Turn your right foot out 90 degrees. On your left foot, have your toes turned slightly in rather than straight ahead.

    An imaginary line drawn from the right heel (toward the left foot) should bisect the arch of the left foot.

  3. Face forward and, as you inhale, raise your arms out to the sides parallel to the line of the shoulders (and the floor) so that they form a T with your torso.

  4. As you exhale, reach your right hand down to your right shin as close to the ankle as is comfortable for you, and then reach and lift your left arm; as much as you can, bring the sides of your torso parallel to the floor.

    Bend your right knee slightly if the back of your leg feels tight.

  5. Soften your left arm and look up at your left hand.

    If your neck hurts, look down or halfway down at the floor.

  6. Repeat Steps 3 through 5 three times, and then stay in Step 5 for 6 to 8 breaths.

  7. Repeat the same sequence on the left side.

In the classic version of this posture, the arms and legs are straight and the trunk is parallel to the floor. The right hand is on the floor outside the right foot.

[Credit: Photograph by Adam Latham]
Credit: Photograph by Adam Latham
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