When I first started practicing yoga, I was a hot mess in Triangle Pose. I thought that if I touched the floor with my hand, I was achieving the best possible version of the pose. I watched everyone around me placing their hand to the floor and tried to imitate their action without any awareness of my body in space and what I was doing with it. It took some time for me to understand and feel it in my body when following cues from the instructor. Once I realized that I had tight hamstrings, I knew that Triangle Pose would be a challenge for me. I heard horror stories of people pulling their hamstrings in class and lived in constant fear of doing the same. I forced myself to be aware of my alignment every time we approached it in class, consciously setting myself up in order to feel the stretch in my hamstrings without hurting myself. Triangle Pose is now one of my favorite poses and when a teacher skips it in a Vinyasa class, I miss it.
Leg Stretch #2 changes the orientation of Triangle Pose, letting you feel it differently in your body. The action of the hip lowering down to the floor as you stretch your leg off to the side mimics Triangle Pose in the standing position. Check out Jill Miller’s video below!
Watch our videos about feet and ankles.
Read “Dear Hamstrings, Why Must You Be So Tight?”
It can be so tempting to mimic or compete with those around you that often leads you to miss what the position or stretch is actually designed to do. A great reminder to listen to the cues and concentrate on what’s happening with your body. It can be a challenge sometimes but well worth the benefits. ~Thank you!
Thanks for reminding us that leg stretch #2 is essentially triangle pose. This is a great addition to my practice!
Definitely a really great way to stretch the hamstrings and change the orientation of the pose to make triangle more accessible. Thanks for sharing!
I love how changing the pose orientation helps you to focus on the muscle work, that is required for the original triangle pose. It eliminates all the side shows like “am I able to reach the floor”, “am I able to keep the balance”…
Lauren, I like the way you change the orientation of triangle to find a different way of experiencing the post. Great video pick.
Good insights on the goal of any pose. Just touching the floor isn’t the real purpose of practice, the strength anf mobility is! Thanks!
Sometime in triangle I feel myself wanting to collapse forward not for lack of flexibility but from last of strength. Leg Stretch #2 is an excellent option to prepare the hips for Trikonasana for those of us with weak Serratus Anterior and and Intercostal Muscles.
I love leg stretch #2 Such a wonderful way to prepare the legs and pelvis for triangle pose. I am currently using leg stretch #1, #2 and #3 as a warm up. As I move my legs through all directions of movement, I remember the words of Jill Miller ” this keeps your legs and hips sockets supple and healthy for a lifetime.”
So many people in yoga classes are tempted to do what you’ve described, thinking the lower they go, the better. I find that the great majority of people will achieve the best alignment in triangle if their hand stops just below their knee, and discourage them from going any further, even if they can. It’s not very possible to keep a “tadasana” spine with the hand near the ankle, save for the most supple of us. I will definitely be trying the wall preparation for a trianlge – although I teach primarily vinyasa and will have to break up the rhythm somewhat… but it will be worth it! Thank you.
I like the idea of closing tha chain to make sure we are focus on the primary goal.
The idea to shift poses to the floor or against a surface is amazing. While not always possible in a class, it is a great idea for personal practice. Suffering from tight hamstrings I appreciated the broken down explanation of triangle. I knew it was a hamstring stretch but never thought of triangle as a hip opener. In the video she explains, and the viewer can clearly see, that through the abduction of one leg the hips are clearly opening. A great pose to add to my personal practice.
I love Leg stretch # 2, thank you for describing how it relates to Triangle Pose.
This is such a great practice – I love how being supported by the floor and the wall helps me to access the muscles and joints so differently than when I’m standing. Definitely one of my personal “go-to” poses as well as one that I like teaching a lot, too. Thanks for posting!
We just did this stretch it YTU training a couple of days ago. I have known for awhile that my hamstrings are tight and I found this pose to be challenging, super informative and helpful. Thanks for sharing 🙂
How timely! We did this in YTU training just today so this was good reinforcement. Video was clear and concise and a good review. Thank you.
I know yoga is self practice, but it’s always hard as someone with tight hamstrings to feel like I’m either not succeeding in getting my heels to the ground in down dog, or struggling in triangle pose. Leg stretch #2 has been a great way for me to start making these poses more assessable for me, and are a quick tune up I can do at home without having to do a whole vinyasa class to get even close to the pose. Thanks for the insight, and hopefully they will be poses I look forward to soon as well.
Captivant tous les changements de directions qu’il est possible d’apporter à chaque pose, et de voir comment celles-ci viennent affecter le corps. Les directions de mouvements restent les mêmes, tandis que les muscles qui se renforcent change avec la gravité. Il devient alors très intéressant de jouer avec ses orientations et ainsi comprendre différentes choses à l’intérieur du corps dépendent de notre position dans l’espace.
Recently, I do this pose for my tight hamstrings. Feels so great! When I take Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana, pelvis moves, but this pose keeps pelvis and move legs.
Who knew how much you could learn about tight hamstrings lying on your back? I am a little obsessed with how incredible leg stretch #2 makes my hamstrings and hips feel – nothing else has released them like this. Clearly, I was not doing triangle pose properly, either! I am so much more aware of my imbalances, and am better able to talk my students into this pose in a more helpful fashion. Thanks for making this pose come alive for me.
Changing the orientation of a pose is fun and interesting. The core certainly has to engage in leg stretch # 2 to maintain the supporting legs hip on the ground. Always intriguing to see how gravity changes the effect on the body and what you need to do to maintain correct alignment in the spine…in this case I have to tubularize my core a lot. PNF contract and relax is really helping my tight hamstrings and coaxing them into lengthening.
I love the change in orientation of the pose in reference to gravity. I also appreciate your awareness of the hamstring stretch in trikonasana and how your appreciation of the pose has changed. External rotation in leg stretch #2 is beneficial to the peak pose of trikonasana.
I agree that this is a pose where students often think the goal of the pose is to touch their hand to the floor, but oftentimes miss out on the benefits. It’s great that you learned where your body was tight and became aware of it. We just learned Leg Stretch #2 today and I think it will benefit my triangle pose as well. Thanks for sharing.
Hi Lauren, the legs stretch poses we’re definitely not my preferred ones, cause I was not flexible at all but the more I practice those poses the more I happen to like them because of the improvrment in the way I feel. thanks for this post I appreciate a lot
thank you for addressing tight hamstrings in this article. I have always had tight hamstrings and appreciate the information in your article. warming up with this version of triangle will help to isolate the hamstrings and allow the breath to relax so there is a better connection to the pelvis.
I have tight hamstrings, so I read your 2 blogs on the Hamstrings .An anatomy review with a picture, and muscle action is always helpfu. What I got from these two blogs is how easy it is to injure tight hamstrings. I love the comment and tip to use the block under the extended leg, I’ll try this with the strap.
Darn you tight hamstrings! I’m constantly afraid that students will pull a muscle in triangle bc they are so desperate to touch the floor. I instruct to put hand on calf/shin/block and they still sometimes don’t bc they see someone else with their palm on the mat. Ugh. This is a great stretch (and video) to lengthen the hamstrings…at least if they don’t listen their hamstrings will be that much more loose!
Tight hamstrings are very popular. Usually when people can not sit up on the floor with traight back and legs they explane it as a tight hamstring. The same about flexing hips in a sanding pose. But do you really think that it is only about tight hamstring? What do you think abot the theory that if you can not sit up straightwith straight legs the problem is in lack of stability in the pelvis and lack of mobility in the hip joint?
I am naturally flexible so forward folds or downward dogs are never really a problem for me, but when it comes to Head to Toe Pose or Triangle (for 5 breaths) I really feel the tightness in my biceps femoris. I love that you posted this and that I just so happened to do this stretch today in class right before finding your post. I’ll be incorporating this stretch to my personal warm-up routine because this is a 2 for 1 deal- hamstrings & hip flexors. I need more flexibility in both. And I hear too many stories of people pulling their hamstrings. I don’t want to add my name to that list. Thanks for sharing!
I love the way this pose prepares us for triangle! And it’s so great to get our body in the arrangement of the pose, but in a different orientation to gravity. Keeping the hip of the straight leg on the ground is so tough in this pose and really turns it into an active, rather than passive pose.
I love the idea of using Leg Stretch #2 as a prep for Triangle. I also appreciated Jill’s reminder at the end of the clip that this stretch not only lengthens hamstrings, but also helps keep hip flexors healthy. Thanks for including it!
Leg stretch #2 is so helpful for me to strengthen the internal and external obliques of the standing leg. It’s also great to understand how straight the spine can be in triangle, and how the pose really does come from building length in the hamstrings over time.
I love this change of relationship to gravity. It is so much more obvious to me when I’m not tublarizing my core, and I can depress my ABducted hip so much easier in this variation.
Love it Lauren! Thanks for sharing your observations!
I love that you brought up this subject on triangle! I was one of those students that thought the big goal was to touch the floor when I first started yoga. Then I did my yoga teacher training and found out it has nothing to do with touching the floor but rather laterally stretching the side body. Now doing my yoga tune up training I see it in a different way once again! I feel like this pose is ever changing for me, it’s one of my least favourite postures that’s for sure. But I do feel that teachers need to enforce the use of blocks in class make them aware that few people with great hip mobility will be able to touch the floor. Thanks for sharing! Great video!
Great exercise! I have tight hamstrings on my left side and it makes triangle very hard for me on that side. I’ve been looking for ways to help stretch that area out without hurting myself and this is definitely one I’ll practice. Another thing that’s been helpful while doing triangle pose is microbending my left knee (I have a tendency to hyperextend which hurts my knee a lot). That plus trying to put more pressure on my back leg has helped as well.
I always have a bit of an internal chuckle when i teach any pose that has a possibility of touching the floor and how students just push and push to do it, no matter how many times i say touching the floor is irrelevant. Now whenever i teach triangle I always make students start it with a block, and it seems to have become the norm that it only gets practiced with a block. Only a few students resist, and those are usually the students that try to insist on being ‘yoga rock stars’. lol
Thank you for addressing hamstrings! Mine are tight as well and I am haunted by the same horror stories of people pulling and tearing them in class. The leg stretch #2 video was very helpful, especially with directions of movement. Thanks for posting!
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The fear of tearing a hamstring also plagues me to. I love the change of orientation on this pose. There is feeling of so much more control with your foot anchored in the wall in this closed chain version of the Triangle Pose.
I actually like this one now. I disliked this one a lot.. now that I understand it better and ways to close chain the stretch, it is more enjoyable.
I love this pose. I teach often to people who have a hard time sensing the movements available in their pelvis and a hard time sensing their choices. It is great to do this pose while maintaining pelvic integrity as well as optimal pelvic-rib relationship so that we can take that to standing and explore those relationships. As a super flexible person, I find this one great to limit my mobility and to explore the variety of modifications.
I have nominated you for the Sunshine Blogger Award since I enjoy your blog posts so much! You Inspire me to be a better teacher and more importantly, a better student!!!! I have attended some of your events and hope to do more in the coming year.
Here is the link. http://wellnessthymewithcarol.wordpress.com/2013/11/04/the-sunshine-blogger-award-nomination/
Enjoy, Carol Takakura
I’ve just started my Yoga Tuneup Training and learned about the Adductor Slides and how this exercise could help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.
In Pilates, we can engage the adductor muscles by using a block or ball between the legs while lying on the mat with knees bent. We engage the adductor muscles just as we exhale, also engaging our Core Stabilizing muscles.
I was taught the squeeze of the ball or block was to help the client engage the muscle correctly and help them stabilize their pelvis during certain Pilates exercises.
I do see that this engagement is more than just stated above and see the link between the adductors and the pelvis floor.
I love this pose. Our relationship with gravity enables us to be more specific and discerning with our choices. A great orientation to isolate the hamstrings as well as the relationship between the pelvis, ribs and legs- building blocks for many poses.
Thanks for the post! Trikonasa is also one of my favorite poses to practice and teach and I have incorporated something very similar to yoga leg stretch #2 in my classes as part of my “standard” warm-up with my students. Having the foot placed against the wall is a variation I have not tried yet and will certainly help with students awareness of their alignment.
I love practicing this hamstring stretch because it allows me to fully concentrate on each leg at a time. I find that using the strap helps to keep my opposite hip grounded, too. A good modification for those with tighter hamstrings is to place a block beneath the hip of the extended leg. This keeps the leg in a safe place while the student extends it, it prevents it from having that “heavy” feeling, and it allows the student to concentrate on keeping the opposite leg grounded. As flexibility increases, the block can be moved down the thigh and eventually removed.
The parallels between trikonasana and supta padangusthasana 2 make a good case for teaching the latter with the leg in external rotation (toes turning toward the floor). I usually discourage flexible bodies from allowing this to happen, since it stretches the medial hamstring more and we’re often targeting an adductor stretch with this pose. However, relating it to the external rotation required for triko does provide a reason to teach external rotation in the pose. Food for thought and for changing my usual approach to the pose…
After trying the half happy baby minivini and now understanding the why, how and which I will def add this to my own practice. I do a lot of leg work in all my classes so this would be a great thing for me to add personally!
Thank you for higlighting this stretch, Lauren. Triangle is also one of my favorite poses to practice and to teach. Right now the most interesting aspect to me is having my students ground down through the back foot and extend the back leg to open up the back (in the standing pose, the top) hip. Learning leg stretch #2 is a great preparation for this opening and also another way to make triangle accessible to students. I am going to incorporate it into warm ups. Thank you!!