The seemingly minute details of setting up for Triangle Pose (Trikonasana) will assist greatly with your alignment. Setting up properly will help with the integrity of the posture and ultimately make it easier and more comfortable for you. Once that "muscle memory" is there it will be easier from then on, so it really is worth the work at the beginning.
Here are some key points to remember in the set up:
- Stand with your feet together, raise your arms overhead, bringing your palms together. Then take a big step to your right and lower your arms halfway, to about shoulder height.
- Your stance should be wide, at least 4-5 feet. Your heels should be in one straight line as if you could draw a straight pencil line behind them.
- Push your hips forward (opens the hips) and lean your upper body back (opens the chest).
- The muscles of your arms are strong and engaged. Your palms are facing down with your fingers pressed together to engage your triceps. Your shoulders are down away from your ears and your back is strong with your shoulders squeezing together.
- Keeping your body facing forward, turn your right foot out 90 degrees to the side. Since your heels should already be lined up in one straight line, don't pivot on the ball of your foot. Pivot on your heel only so that your heels remain in one straight line.
- Keep your spine in the center as you bend your right knee. Don't angle your spine or let your upper body lean towards your bent knee. Your spine, your upper body is still vertically centered at this point even though your leg is bending.
- Your right knee is bending until the back of your right thigh is parallel to the floor, with the shin and thigh forming a right angle. Push your hips forward and bring your right knee back.
Now you are ready to move into the posture.
- Think of your hips as the pivot point. They do not move. It is very common, especially as a beginner, to lift your hips up as you try to touch your toes. Without moving your hips, move both arms at the same time, bending at the waist but keeping the torso stable and the spine straight.
- Turn the palms forward and reach down with the right arm, while equally and simultaneously reaching up with the left, placing the elbow in front of the right knee and touching the tips of your fingertips to the floor between the big toe and the second toe of your right foot. If your fingers can't touch your toes, stretch your right shoulder down. There should be no pressure on your fingertips; you're just barely touching the floor.
To get the alignment in Trikonasana, imagine that you’re doing the exercise between two walls, one at your front and one at your back, that are closing in toward each other. If your hips are too far back, you tend to lean forward and get thrown off balance. If you push your hips too far forward, your upper body goes too far back and you backbend instead of extending the spine.