Chair Pose, also known as Utkatasana in Sanskrit, is a standing yoga posture that challenges the strength and stability of the lower body.
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’, ‘fierce’, or ‘severe’. This pose is also called the Chair Pose just because the posture resembles one sitting on an invisible chair.
This pose is one of the first poses 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 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.
Chair Pose is considered a base pose as chair pose variations can be derived from this pose. Chair Pose helps boost energy in the body and hence can be included in different yoga sequences.
Start in Mountain pose with the big toes together & heels slightly apart.
*Modification: If you have lower back issues keep feet hip distance apart with the outer edges of the feet parallel to one another.
On an inhale, bend your knees and lower your hips down as if you are going to sit in a small chair.
*Modifications: Don’t bend your knees to where you are dumping or over arching your spine. It is better to have a smaller bend in your knees and keep a strong and straight spine.
Lift your arms up above head and rotate the triceps in towards one another. Draw the shoulder blades down the back and away from the ears.
Shift the weight into your heels and draw your shins back. You should be able to see your toes and lift them off the earth if you chose to. Tailbone lengthens down towards the earth.
Bring a gentle engagement to your belly by drawing the navel in and up towards the spine. Tuck the lower ribs in as you open your chest and broaden your collarbones.
To release, fold over your legs and Come into forward fold. Alternatively you could straighten your legs and bring the arms along side the body into Tadasana.
Benefits and Contraindications
Strengthens the ankles, thighs, calves, and spine
Reduces flat feet
Stretches shoulders and chest
Stimulates the abdominal organs, diaphragm, and heart
Low blood pressure
Photo poses in different angles
Modifications and Props
As with all yoga poses, it’s important to listen to your body and modify the pose as needed to suit your level of flexibility and strength. For example, you can place a block under your hips to reduce the depth of the bend in your knees, or keep your arms by your sides instead of raising them overhead if that feels more comfortable. Here are a few more examples of how you can use props to make the Chair Pose comfortable for you.
Chair Pose with a block: If you have trouble keeping your balance in Chair Pose or find that your thighs or lower back are strained, try placing a block between your thighs. This can help to engage your inner thigh muscles and provide additional support. Hold the block firmly between your thighs as you lower your hips into the pose, and then release the block when you come back up to standing.
Chair Pose with a wall: If you have difficulty maintaining proper alignment in Chair Pose or tend to lean forward or backward, try practicing the pose with your back against a wall. Stand with your back to the wall and then lower your hips into the pose as you normally would, pressing your lower back against the wall for support. This can help you to maintain proper alignment and prevent you from leaning too far forward or back.
Chair Pose with a strap: If you have tight shoulders or find it difficult to raise your arms overhead in Chair Pose, try using a strap to help extend your reach. Hold the strap in both hands and extend your arms above your head, keeping them shoulder-width apart. As you lower your hips into the pose, use the strap to guide your arms back behind your ears. This can help to open up your chest and shoulders and deepen the stretch.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Chair Pose safe during pregnancy?
Chair Pose can be safe during pregnancy if modified appropriately and if cleared by a doctor or healthcare provider. Modifications may include using a chair for support, keeping the knees bent less deeply, or avoiding the pose altogether in the later stages of pregnancy.
How long should Chair Pose be held?
Chair Pose can be held for several breaths or for a few seconds at a time, depending on your level of strength and endurance. It’s important to work within your own limits and avoid holding the pose for too long if it causes strain or discomfort.
How does Utkatasana differ from other squatting poses in yoga?
Utkatasana is similar to other squatting poses in yoga, such as Malasana or Garland Pose, but with a more active and engaged posture. In Utkatasana, the legs are actively pressing together and the arms are lifted overhead, whereas in other squatting poses the arms may be resting on the floor or the hands may be clasped at the chest.
A digital marketer in love with yoga and everything that goes along with it.
In 2021, her huge passion for yoga led her to yoga teacher trainings.
After successfully completing her studies, Iana received her Yoga Alliance U.S. certification, left the corporate IT world and devoted herself to the development of Yanva.
To be able to create the best online yoga space for yoga enthusiasts like her, Iana is constantly learning and improving her skills in various aspects of yoga philosophy, anatomy and biomechanics.
Since 2021, she has continued to attend various types of teacher training, including yoga therapy, gives online and offline classes, and conducts local workshops for people who want to learn more about yoga.
At the moment, Iana continues to work on her personal practice, improving her hand balancing skills, as well as developing her own training programs.