Utkatasana or Chair pose is one of the best yoga poses for beginners as it is a simple ‘standing asana’. The term Utkatasana is a combination of the words ‘Utkata’ (the Sanskrit word for fierce or hazardous) and asana (meaning posture); this is why this pose is sometimes referred to as the ‘Fierce Pose’ or the ‘Hazardous Pose’. Utkatasana is called the Chair pose as it looks like you are sitting on an invisible chair. Utkatasana requires determination and focus and this is why it is one of the most commonly recommended yoga postures for beginners as it helps to create the right mental state to perform asanas. Basic yoga poses such as Utkatasana are ideal yoga exercises for beginners as they also improve overall flexibly and balance.
How To Perform Utkatasana (Chair Pose)
Utkatasana should be performed at least 4 -6 hours after a meal and you should ensure that your stomach and bowels are empty at this time. Even though Utkatasana is an easy yoga pose, you can perform a few preparatory asanas to increase the strength and flexibility of the muscles you will engage while performing this pose. You can learn a few Utkatasana prep poses such as Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog pose), Bhujangasana (Cobra pose), and Virasana (Hero pose) before you learn how to do Chair pose. These prep poses for Utkatasana are basic yoga poses that will stretch and strengthen the muscles of your thighs, ankles, and calves as well as align your vertebral column. These are the 7 Chair pose steps:
1. Stand erect with your feet slightly apart.
2. Inhale and raise your arms perpendicular to the floor. Either keep the arms parallel, palms facing inward, or join your palms.
3. Exhale and bend your knees, trying to keep your thighs as parallel to the floor as possible.
4. Your knees will project out over your feet, and your torso will lean forward slightly over your thighs until your torso forms an approximate right angle with the tops of your thighs.
5. Keep your thighs parallel to each other and push down on your pelvis towards your heels.
6. Firm your shoulder blades against your back and keep your spine lengthened.
7. Stay in this position for 30 seconds to a minute, while breathing evenly.
Follow these Utkatasana steps carefully and do not make any changes to them. It is important to follow the Utkatasana sequence of steps to maximise the effects of this asana and to ensure that you do not strain any of the muscles in your thighs or calves.
How To Release From Utkatasana (Chair Pose)
To release from Utkatasana, straighten your knees with an inhalation while lifting strongly through your arms. Straighten out completely and allow your arms to remain loosely by your sides. When moving from Utkatasana to any of the other poses, make sure that your movements are not jerky; instead they should be slow and fluid. Instead of transitioning from Utkatasana directly to the next pose, you can include 10 seconds of mindful breathing in between the poses to give your body and mind time to recover.
Similar Poses To Utkatasana (Chair Pose)
There are a few other poses that are similar to Utkatasana and you can include them in your yoga routine to relieve any tension in your spine, thighs, or ankles.
Tadasana – The Mountain pose
Virabhadrasana 1 – The Warrior 1 pose
Adho Mukha Svanasana – The Downward Facing Dog pose
Baddha Konasana – The Bound Angle pose
Vrksasana – The Tree pose
These poses will enhance the benefits of Utkatasana and will help to stretch the muscles of the knee, thigh, and groin.
Benefits Of Utkatasana (Chair Pose)
Utkatasana strengthens the thighs and gives them more power and flexibility; in fact it is one of the best thigh strengthening yoga asanas. This is one of the main benefits of Utkatasana.
This pose also exercises the spine, hip and chest muscles.
Utkatasana strengthens the lower body while stretching the upper back.
This pose increases your lung capacity and invigorates and energizes your entire body
Practicing Utkatasana on a regular basis will also tone and stabilize your knee and ankle joints.
Utkatasana also engages all your core muscles and helps to reduce flat feet.
Yoga brings together physical and mental disciplines to increase muscle flexibility and body tone while also eliminating stress and anxiety. Yoga for strengthening thigh muscles would be especially beneficial to athletes and fitness enthusiasts, but it can be used by just about anyone as it does not give you bulky muscle but instead it gives you lean shapely legs.
Utkatasana is physically and mentally taxing as it requires you to focus your mind and your energy to maintain this posture. Many yoga beginners lose their focus within a few minutes as their mind start to wander; however, with regular yoga practice you will be able to overcome this problem. The Chair pose for beginners generally consists of the same steps but the amount of time spent in this position is much shorter. Beginners can also try one of the Utkatasana variations such as the Ardha Utkatasana (Half Chair pose) which does not require your thighs to be parallel to the ground. Ardha Utkatasana does not put as much stress on your thigh muscles and so it would be good to start with this pose and then move on to Utkatasana.
Contraindications Of Utkatasana (The Chair Pose)
While the benefits and importance of Utkatasana are immense, there are certain circumstances when you should avoid this pose. Avoid practicing this asana if you have pain in your lower back or if you have chronic knee pain, arthritis, a sprained ankle, headache, or insomnia. If you are menstruating or if you have low blood pressure, it would be better to avoid this asana.
Tips For Utkatasana (Chair Pose)
To help you stay in this pose, perform it near a wall. Adjust your position relative to the wall so when you bend into the position, your tailbone just touches and is supported by the wall.