Trikonasana is a lateral bend of the hips that helps tone the legs and opens up the hamstrings and the outer hips.
Starting in Tadasana, jump the feet out to the side anywhere between 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 feet apart. The optimal distance here depends upon your flexibility, so beginners will start with a narrower stance, and widen as flexibility is increased. Turn the right foot out to 90 degrees and turn in the left foot around 5 to 10 degrees. The foot and knees should be pointing in the same direction (this is a good rule of thumb for all standing poses), so the angle will vary slightly depending upon the rotation of the back hip in the final pose. As you inhale, lift the arms to the sides and firm the thighs, then on the exhale extend the torso out over the right leg, bending from the hips and not the waist. Make sure that the upper body stays in line with the legs. Instead of trying to get the head and hand closer to the floor (As one of my teachers says, “there is nothing down there”) focus on keeping the right side of the waist long so the spine stays straight. Keep the torso open to the side of your mat.
Let the right hand come to the shin, a block, the foot, or the floor (depending upon your flexibility) and let the left arm extend out in line with the shoulders. Keep your neck in line with the spine and if comfortable, turn your gaze up toward the left hand. Keep the tailbone tucked so the lower back stays long here. Check in with the front foot and make sure you are bringing as much weight to the inside of the foot as the outside. This ensures that the hamstrings will lengthen evenly.
As you bend to the side, the left hip will rotate slightly forward to let the right hip drop further. How much this rotates out depends upon the relative flexibility of various muscles of the hip. The more the pelvis rotates toward the floor however, the more the spine must twist to stay open. If you are tight at the outer hip, you will feel the Gluteus Medius and Tensor Fascia Lata lengthening as the back leg adducts in relation to the pelvis. As flexibility increases, the back hip needs to rotate forward less and less, and the pose gets closer to a pure sideways bend at the hips.
If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you or see you at one of my classes!