Utkatasana (OOT-kah-tah-sana) is better known by its English name Chair Pose. Its like sitting in a chair, but without the chair and with your arms raised above you. In other words, its not nearly as comfortable as sitting in your favorite chair, but, then again, you dont get the benefit of stronger legs and improved digestion by hanging out in your favorite comfy chair.
Other common names include Fierce Pose or Powerful Pose.
Getting into Utkatasana
Chair Pose can start in a posture as basic as Mountain Pose, standing with your feet hip width apart. Some choose to bring their feet and legs together which can provide you with slightly more support as you gain strength in your quads and ankles.
As you inhale, raise your arms over your head to bring your palms together and gaze towards your thumbs. On the exhale, bend your knees and lower your hips as if you were sitting in a chair. The goal is to get your thighs parallel to the floor. If thats too much, do whats comfortable for you.
To maximize the alignment in Chair Pose:
Balance your weight between the pads of your feet and your heels. You should be able to raise your toes slightly.
Keep your back straight as you lengthen your spine by drawing your tailbone under and reaching the crown of your head in the opposite direction.
Slide your shoulder blades down your back, keeping your shoulders from inching up towards your ears as you extend through your fingertips. Allow your heart to draw forward.
Continue drawing your arms in line with your ears. It may help to think about reaching your thumbs towards the back wall.
Rotate your thighs inward from the hips to open the pelvis and make room for the tailbone to tuck under
Gaze at your thumbs. If this hurts your neck, keep your gaze forward.
With each inhale expand your ribcage. With each exhale sink a little lower and draw everything towards the center line of the body.
Precautions in Chair Pose
Chair pose is not recommended for those who suffer from lower back pain or low blood pressure. If you feel lightheaded while in this pose, come out of it.
Chair Pose for Beginners
This pose requires balance and strength, both of which require practice and patience. If youre new to Utkatasana, hold the pose for as long as you can and build from there. Remember to breathe and push through for as long as you can.
These modifications may also help.
Start standing with your back against the wall. As you squat, allow the wall to help support you.
Place your feet and legs together. As you bend your knees, imagine theres a piece of paper between your thighs and dont let it fall. Pressing your legs against each other will provide added support.
If holding your arms in line with your ears hurts your shoulders, keep your arms extended forward parallel with the floor.
Benefits of Utkatasana
Chair pose is slightly more enticing when you consider the benefits of it.
** Strengthens the thighs, ankles, calves and knees
** Stretches the shoulders
** Opens the heart and chest
** Stimulates the heart
** Tones the abdomen
** Provides relief from menstrual cramps
While the mention of Chair Pose may cause you to cringe, think of all these benefits and modify as needed. You can breathe through this pose and with practice youll find you become stronger and, perhaps, even fierce.