About the pose
Though Utkatasana is also called Chair Pose, one should not think that the meaning of utkata in Sanskrit means chair. This pose is mainly referred to as the Fierce Pose where Utkata means violent or fierce or severe. This pose is also called the Chair pose just because the posture resembles like one is sitting on an invisible chair. This pose is one of the first pose in the Sun Salutation B series. It needs ample strength with the quadricep muscles to help your hips get the right support and give the knees a comfort to hold the pose for long. Working on the alignment of the hips along with the knees and the pelvic region is very essential to get comfortable in this pose.
- Arms and Shoulders
- Lower Back
How to do the pose
- From Mountain pose / Tadasana
- Exhale as you bend your knees and move your hips back as if you were sitting down on a chair. Draw your lower abdomen in and up to support your lower back
- Send your hips back rather than your knees forward, so that you can still see your toes
- Inhale as you raise your arms up around your ears and soften your shoulders
- Keep reaching higher, while sitting lower for 5 to 10 breaths
- To come back into in Tadasana, exhale, as you press your feet down to straighten your legs and then bring your arms down to your sides.
- Think about squeezing your legs together as if they are one to make them stronger. You can use a block or rolled up towel to practice this – imagine you are squeezing it and also trying to shoot it out behind you as you internally rotate the thighs
- However, you can also bring your feet wider apart to make your base a little more stable if you need to
- Press firmly through the feet to create more lift in the upper body. Keep the weight evenly distributed between the heels and the balls of the feet
- Practice the action in the legs first with your hands on your hips or the back of a (stable) chair for support.
- Strengthens and stabilises the legs, ankles and feet
- Strengthens the abdominal muscles and lower back
- Opens and stretches the chest and shoulders
- Improves confidence and focus
- Utkatasana is a great pose in which to practise Mula Bandha and Uddiyana Bandha which will create lightness and also tone the pelvic floor muscles and lower abdomen.
Watch out for
- Protect your knees: Double check that they don’t come forward over the line of the toes. You should be able to see the toes.
- If you have discomfort in your shoulders or neck, bring your arms wider apart and/or lower. They can be pointing straight out in front of you or down to the floor. Alternatively you could bend the elbows and point the fingertips upwards.
- Make sure your lower belly is drawn back to the spine to protect your lower back. Try not to overarch the lumbar spine.
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- Bring your legs together and squeeze them into each other if you want to work on your leg strength – you can also squeeze a block or towel if it’s more comfortable
- Practise the pose with your feet hip-width apart or wider to create a more stable base, this is also a good variation to use if you are pregnant or if you have a larger body
- Experiment with the arms in different positions: Clasp your hands behind your back for a shoulder stretch and then move dynamically into a forward fold (hands still clasped) and back again into Utkatasana
- Or, bring your palms together into Anjali Mudra (prayer position, thumbs to chest) preparing for Parivrtta Utkatasana / Revolved Chair pose.