Every yoga pose, known in Sanskrit as an “asana,” has its own way of bringing the body and mind into greater harmony. World-renowned yoga teacher B.K.S. Iyengar poetically compares the body to a bow and each asana to the various arrows with which individuals target the ultimate aim of yoga practice — the soul.
This guide offers an in-depth look at chair pose (utkatasana).
About the Pose
Inspiration can take root from anything — including a chair. Despite its simple name, utkatasana is not a simple pose. But doesn’t everyone love a good chair? In order to imitate a solid seat, this pose requires core strength and stable legs. As you test your strength and flexibility in practicing utkatasana, take a moment to thank all the chairs that supported you when you needed it most. Level: Beginner Key Benefits:
- Lengthens the spine
- Strengthens the hips
- Builds foot, ankle, calf, knee, and buttock muscles
- Stretches the entire upper body
- Expands the chest
- People with low blood pressure may find this pose uncomfortable.
- Individuals with a knee, ankle, or foot injury should avoid this pose.
- Similarly, those suffering from arthritis may want to abstain from chair pose.
- Standing Backbend Pose (Anuvittasana): This beginner pose improves circulation, tones the spine, and strengthens the abdominal muscles.
- Goddess Pose (Utkata Konasana): This beginner pose opens up many parts of the body, improves posture, and increases stability.
- Fish Pose (Matsyasana): This beginner pose decreases neck and shoulder stiffness, strengthens the back muscles, and opens the chest.
- Elephant Pose (Gaja Vadivu): This beginner pose opens the hips, strengthens the legs, and engages the core.
Trying It Out
Remember to keep your breathing full and steady as you follow these step-by-step instructions to try this pose out for yourself:
Begin in mountain pose (tadasana).
Extend your arms down by your side, stretch your fingertips, and then bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Touch your fingertips to the floor by the sides of your feet.
On your next inhale, draw your arms above your head with your palms facing each other. Stretch them up high.
Breathe in this pose for at least 15 seconds.
Refining the Pose
Achieving maximum benefit from your yoga practice requires you to pay close attention to your physical alignment. To ensure you maintain proper alignment, ask yourself these questions:
- Are your feet hip-width apart and parallel?
- Have you extended your arms as high as possible?
- Are your thighs almost parallel to the ground?
- Is your tailbone tucked in to support your lower back?
- Is your head level?
- Chair Pose Gentle Variation (Utkatasana Variation Gentle): A gentler variation of this pose involves stretching the spine without bending the knees too strenuously. Simply bend them enough to feel a stretch in your spine.
- Chair Pose With Prayer Hands (Utkatasana Namaste Hands): Instead of lifting your arms above your head, this variation involves placing your hands together in a prayer position in front of your chest.
- Chair Pose With Arms Outstretched (Utkatasana Arms Outstretched): Another variation involves stretching your arms out to your sides with your palms facing upward.