Utkatasana: Chair Pose
A challenging pose with hidden benefits, utkatasana (OOT-kah-TAHS-anna) works your body inside and out. Aside from strengthening your legs, this powerful pose also improves the health of your diaphragm and stimulates your heart. Practicing regularly will not only increase your physical endurance, it also encourages your chest and arms to open, creating more space in your body energetically.
Philosophy + Origin
While sitting in a chair is a common act for most of us today, chairs were once, and in some locations still are, considered a luxury. A throne in particular is a seat of power, one assumed by leaders around the world. The pose utkatasana, translated to mean powerful pose, invites individuals to sit on their throne, their seat of power. Embracing the challenge of the pose, and recognizing the strength that is generated when assumed thoughtfully and in proper alignment (physically and spiritually), you can begin to refine all aspects of your life, allowing yourself to step into roles of leadership and responsibility with clarity and confidence.
- Roll up a blanket and place it beneath your heels if they’re tight or if stiff ankles prevent you from reaching the mat comfortably.
- Keep your gaze straight ahead to prevent pain or discomfort in the neck.
- Place a block in between your thighs to practice proper alignment while also strengthening your thighs and legs.
- Bend your knees only as much as is comfortable for your low back.
- Stand at the top of your mat and place your feet inner-hip width distance apart with all toes facing forward.
- Reach your arms overhead, palms facing each other.
- Bend your knees and reach your seat back, so most of your weight is in your heels. Keep your knees over your feet.
- Allow your upper body to lean forward slightly. If you were to look in a mirror, the line of your torso and the line of your thighs would approximately create a right angle.
- Draw your shoulder blades gently toward each other and down, keeping shoulders away from your ears. Lengthen through your tailbone to encourage your lower back to stay long.
- Hold the pose for up to 60 seconds, then release.
- Utkata = fierce, powerful
- Asana = pose
- Strengthens the lower body, specifically hip flexors, quadriceps, inner thighs, and gluteus muscles.
- Strengthens and stretches the calf muscles.
- Opens chest and shoulders.
- Strengthens arches in feet.
- Stimulates the heart and diaphragm.
- Strengthens mental endurance.
- Opens energetic channels in the body, especially around the heart.
Parivrtta Utkatasana: Revolved Chair Pose
Parivrtta utkatasana (par-ee-vrit-tah OOT-kah-TAHS-anna) lives up to the Sanskrit translation of power and ferocity. A great way to strengthen and lengthen the leg muscles, this challenging posture also lengthens and improves mobility in the spine. Practicing parivrtta utkatasana will give a feeling of groundedness in the lower half of the body and open spaciousness in the upper body.
Philosophy + Origin
Parivrtta utkatasana is an opportunity to practice the concept of “rooting to rise.” In order to deepen the posture, you must find strength in the legs and lightness in the spine and upper body. While it’s easy to only focus on deepening the twist, the best results come from first setting up your foundation. This philosophy of building a strong foundation through rooting and grounding is helpful in life. While your goals and aspirations, even your daily to-dos, can constantly demand your attention, get strong through your roots before you try to spread your wings.