Utkatasana, or chair pose. It’s one of the poses that emits the most exhausted sighs and nervous glances. Not many yogis will claim it as their favorite pose, but putting in consistent work will reap amazing results.
Chair pose looks deceptively easy and straightforward, yet you’ll find it requires great flexibility in the shoulders, stability in the core, and strength in the legs.
Utkatasana truly is a fierce position. When you hold it for several breaths, you’re going to feel your heart rate increase, quickly building heat in the body. But how do we move past the frowns and moans to truly understand the full-body benefits of this sneaky little pose?
Let’s Break This Down
The name ‘utkatasana’ comes from the Sanskrit word ‘utkata,’ which means fierce, superior, or difficult. In English, we call it chair pose because you look like you’re sitting in an invisible chair or throne.
What are the Benefits?
Most of you have probably heard about the consequences of sitting for too long, such as obesity and high blood pressure. But this type of “seat” is a different story altogether! Utkatasana is no lounge chair. It’s more like an air squat - a powerful pose that strengthens your thighs and ankles, while toning your glutes and core. It also stretches your shoulders and opens your chest.
How Can I Modify My Chair Pose?
Make It Simpler, Please: Whether you’re new to yoga or simply experiencing some pain or tightness, try squeezing a block between your thighs. We always recommend this modification to anyone who experiences lower back pain while holding chair pose. This trick also helps protect your knees, keeping them moving toward your midline rather than splaying open to the sides.
I’m Ready for a Challenge: To take the pose even deeper, draw your hands down into prayer at your chest. Take a deep inhale, lengthening your spine. Exhaling, twist your torso to the right. Bring your left elbow to the outside of your right thigh and lift your gaze to the sky. Make sure your knees stay aligned as one usually has the tendency to move too far forward.
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