Chair Pose / Powerful Pose  -Utkatasana

Step by step

  • 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.

Beginners tips

  • 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.

Benefits

  • 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. 

Variations

  • 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.