Utkatasana | Fierce or Chair Pose
utkata = powerful, fierce
Chair Pose clearly works the muscles of the arms and legs, but it also stimulates the diaphragm and heart.
Type of Pose: Standing
Utkatasana Pose Benefits
• Strengthens the ankles, thighs, calves, and spine
• Stretches shoulders and chest
• Stimulates the abdominal organs, diaphragm, and heart
• Reduces flat feet by lifting through the arches
• Low blood pressure
Step by Step
1. Stand in Tadasana. Inhale and raise your arms perpendicular to the floor. Either keep the arms parallel, palms facing inward, or join the palms.
2. Exhale and bend your knees, trying to take the thighs as nearly parallel to the floor as possible, grounding through the heels. The knees will project out over the feet, and the torso will lean slightly forward over the thighs until the front torso forms approximately a right angle with the tops of the thighs. Keep the inner thighs parallel to each other and press the heads of the thigh bones down toward the heels.
3. Firm your shoulder blades against the back. Take your tailbone down toward the floor and in toward your pubis to keep the lower back long.
4. Stay for 30 seconds to a minute. To come out of this pose straighten your knees with an inhalation, lifting strongly through the arms. Exhale and release your arms to your sides into Tadasana.
Modifications: You can increase the strength of your thighs by squeezing a block or thick book between them during the pose.
Beginners Tip: To help you stay in this pose, perform it near a wall. Stand with your back to the wall, a few inches away from the wall. Adjust your position relative to the wall so that when you bend into the position, your tailbone just touches and is supported by the wall.
Deepen the Pose: The secret to a comfortable stay in Utkatasana is the release of the heads of the thigh bones toward the heels. Once in the pose, bring your hands to your tops thighs. Nestle the bases of your palms into the creases of the groins and push the heads of thighs toward the heels, digging the heels deep into the floor. Against these actions, lift the sitting bones up into the pelvis.
Variation: As you bend your knees, lift up onto the balls of your feet and sit your buttocks down on your raised heels. Extend your arms forward, parallel to each other and the floor, palms down or facing inward.