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At the physical plane, yoga has some very effective workouts for all the major muscle groups of our bodies -- the arms, legs, chest and abdomen. In this article, I am sharing a fine pose, or asana, that should stretch your hamstring and lower back muscles beautifully, if done correctly.
This pose is called the Utthita Trikonasana in Sanskrit or the extended triangle pose. This pose also works the muscles of the hips in the standing position while executing the triangular shape of the pose.
This asana will work on the muscles of your thighs or quadriceps as well as work the muscles of the hips, hamstrings and inner thighs (adductor magnus). (1)
Here is how you can execute the extended triangle pose:
1. Lay out your exercise or yoga mat on an even floor.
2. Stand erect in the mountain pose or Tadasana (i.e stand straight with your chest out, legs together and arms by your sides).
3. Slowly spread your legs about two to three feet apart. At this position, turn your left foot slightly inwards towards the right. Turn your right foot outward so it now points to the right side.
4. Extend your arms out to your sides in a T-shape. The fully extended arms should be parallel to the floor.
5. Bend at your hips and lean in towards your right side, keeping your spine straight while bending.
6. As you bend, lower your right hand towards your right shin and let your left hand point towards the ceiling.
Note: If you wish to make the asana more intense, you can touch the floor next to your right foot with your right hand. Even in this position, your arms will be in a straight line. However, to begin with, keep the asana simple, without adding this intensity to it.
7. Tuck in your abdominal muscles to support your spine.
8. Turn your head gently to gaze at the fingertips of the left hand. In this position, you will feel the muscles of your entire left side (neck, arm, back and side) engage in a stretch.
9. Hold this position for 5 to 10 seconds or till the time you are comfortable.
10. Release this asana by bringing your left hand down, turning your head to look down, bringing your right leg to its original position and straightening your hip.