Utkatasana step by step
- Starting in 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 for chair pose
- 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.
- 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
- If you have knee or ankle injuries you may prefer to substitute Childs pose with a different resting pose such as Savasana / Corpse Pose
- If you feel compression or discomfort in your hips – or if you feel any constriction in the pose, try a wider-legged variation or substitute with a pose on your back like Reclined Butterfly pose
- 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.