Understanding the Utkatasana or the Chair Pose!
Utkatasana gets its name from Sanskrit where “Utkata” means “Wild” or “Fierce” and “Asana” means “Pose” or “Posture”. Utkatasana is also called Wild Pose or Fierce Pose.
It is also called Chair Pose because of the shaped body assumes when in the final posture. Imagine yourself sitting on an imaginary chair. The shape your body assumes when it is sitting on an imaginary chair is the final position of this asana. And Utkatasana is also called The Chair Pose.
It works directly on the muscles of the arms and legs, but it also stimulates the diaphragm and heart.
Utkatasana requires constant determination and conscious focus and strength and master and hold this pose.
The Chair Pose is one of the most commonly recommended yoga postures for beginners as it helps to create the mental state, physical stretch and strength to perform asanas. Utkatasana is one of the basic yoga poses and one of the best yoga exercises for beginners as it helps in improving overall flexibility and balance of the body. And like other yogasanas, it is considered best when The Chair Pose is practiced early in the morning. However, if because of some reason, you are not able to practice it in the morning, you can practice Utkatasana in the evening as well. Mornings are preferred as the food is digested and your body has the energy to perform the asanas. But make sure that when you are practicing Utkatasana or The Chair Pose in the evening, you should have your food five to six hours before you practice as your food takes this much time to digest.
The Chair Pose helps in the stimulation of the heart and diaphragm. The Pose helps in increasing strength and stamina but also helps you perform all the standing poses by improving strength and stability. The pose also strengthens the hips and thighs.
How to Do Utkatasana or the Chair Pose
To practice Utkatasana or The Chair Pose, you must stand on the floor or on a yoga mat in Tadasana in standing position.
Tadasana in Standing Position
- To practice Tadasana in standing position, stand straight and keep your legs slightly apart from each other.
- Raise your hands above your head and look straight while focusing on one point in front of you.
- Interlock the fingers of both the hands and turn them upwards in such a way that the palms are towards the ceiling/sky.
- Take a deep breath or while inhaling, stretch your arms, chest, and shoulders upwards.
- While practicing Tadasana, the gaze can be adjusted to look a little above while stretching.
- Raise your heels in such a way that all the weight of your body is on the toes.
- Remain in this position for 20-30 seconds.
- Retain your breath while stretching.
- While exhaling, come down to your original position.
- This completes one round of Standing Tadasana.
Steps to Do Utkatasana or the Chair Pose
- To practice Utkatasana or The Chair Pose, get into Tadasana on the floor or on the yoga mat.
- To practice the pose, the big toes of your feet should touch each other and your heels should be lying a little apart from each other.
- While practicing Utkatasana, you should squeeze your lower abdomen inwards in such a way that it should feel like you are touching your spine from inside while taking the lower abdomen inwards.
- Move your shoulder bones and open your chest while practicing The Chair Pose.
- Take a deep breath and raise your arms over your head.
- While practicing Utkatasana or The Chair Pose, you can keep your arms either parallel to each other or keep your palms joined when your arms are on over your head.
- Keep your arms in front of your ears or at the same level or before your ears.
- Gently and carefully bend your knees and push down your pelvis, such that it seems like you are seated in an imaginary chair while practicing The Chair Pose.
- Be aware as you hold the pose, and keep your spine lengthened while practicing Utkatasana or The Chair Pose.
- While practicing The Chair Pose, try to keep your thighs as parallel to the ground as possible. While doing this your knees will come out in front of your feet.
- Your inward thighs are supposed to be parallel to each other and the thigh bones should be squeezed to the heels.
- Stay in this posture for a few seconds or for as long as you can.
- Inhale and keep your knees straight while practicing Utkatasana.
- Exhale deeply and bring down your hands to the normal position.
- Repeat the same process around 3 to 5 times while practicing Utkatasana or The Chair Pose.
- Calm your mind and relax while practicing The Chair Pose.
- Now hold the pose for up to a minute.
- Gently go down and sit in Sukhasana.
Breathing Pattern to Be Followed While Practicing Utkatasana or the Chair Pose
- Inhale deeply while taking your arms up.
- Exhale while bending your knees when practicing The Chair Pose.
- Maintain your breath while holding the final Utkatasana or The Chair Pose.
- Exhale deeply after releasing the pose.
Preparatory and Follow-Up Asanas for Utkatasana or the Chair Pose
Preparatory Poses: The various preparatory poses for Utkatasana or The Chair Pose are Adho Mukha Svanasana or Downward facing dog, Bhujangasana or The Crown Pose and Virasana or The Hero Pose.
Follow-Up Poses: The various follow-up asanas for Utkatasana or The Chair Pose are Uttanasana or The Standing Forward Bend and Tadasana or The Mountain Pose.
Benefits of Practicing Utkatasana or the Chair Pose
- Practicing Utkatasana or The Chair Pose gives the hips, spine, and chest muscles a good stretch and strengthen them.
- It strengthens the torso and lower back.
- It helps in balancing the mind, increases the power of concentration, allows more awareness and gives physical and mental relaxation quickly. The thinking process becomes very clear and precise with regular practice of Dandasana or The Staff Pose.
- Utkatasana or The Chair Pose tones the legs, especially the muscles in the knee, the ankles, and the thighs
- The Chair Pose gives the abdominal organs a good massage and also stimulates the diaphragm and the heart. It improves digestion by stimulating the digestive organs.
- With regular practice, Utkatasana helps in losing fat, especially from the thighs and buttocks.
- The Chair Pose strengthens your immune system and makes you feel active and energized.
- It also helps relieve joint pains.
- Utkatasana helps in relieving back ailments.
- The Chair Pose helps in strengthening all the core muscles of the body.
- It also stretches the Achilles tendons and shins and thus helps in getting rid of flat feet.
- Utkatasana or The Chair Pose is considered a very beneficial pose to practice Mula Bandha and Uddiyana Bandha, which will create lightness and also tones the pelvic region and muscles of the lower abdomen.
Precautions and Contraindications While Practicing Utkatasana or the Chair Pose
Utkatasana or The Chair Pose should not be performed if you have chronic lower back pain.
- It should not be performed by people suffering from pain in the hips or any other issues with the hips.
- You should not perform The Chair Pose if you have chronic knee pain.
- People suffering from arthritis should also not perform Utkatasana.
- People whose ankle is sprained should also not practice The Chair Pose.
- Insomniac people should also not practice it.
- This asana should not be performed by people who have any ligament tear.
- People who have frequent headaches and migraines should not perform Utkatasana or The Chair Pose.
- Get out of the pose or release the pose if you feel a sudden sharp and shooting pain in your legs.
- If you have any doubts about your condition, consult a physician before practicing Utkatasana or The Chair Pose and always practice asana under the supervision of a trained yoga expert.
- Do not over exert yourself while practicing Utkatasana. Do not push yourself beyond the limits. Go only as far as your body allows.
- Females who are menstruating should take care while practicing The Chair Pose.
- People with low blood pressure should also not perform Utkatasana or The Chair Pose.
Tips While Practicing Utkatasana or the Chair Pose
- To stay longer in Utkatasana or The Chair Pose, perform it near a wall and adjust your position near the wall I such a way that when you bend into the final pose, your tailbone touches and is supported by the wall.
- You can increase the strength of your thighs while practicing Utkatasana or The Chair Pose by keeping a thick blanket or block between your thighs while being in the final position.
- If you’re having trouble in balancing your body while standing with your big toes together, stand with your feet hip-distance apart. You can gradually work towards standing with your feet together and thighs firmly pressing each other. You will get to this pose with constant practice.
- Pregnant females should stand with their feet as apart as it is necessary to balance the whole body.
- If it is difficult for you to keep your arms overhead while practicing Utkatasana or The Chair Pose, keep your arms at the shoulder length parallel to each other.
- If you have pain in your shoulders, you can keep your arms and hands in prayer position while practicing The Chair Pose.
- Always try to maintain a slight arch in your back to derive maximum benefits from the pose while practicing Utkatasana.
- Squeeze your thighs as close together as possible or put a yoga block as mentioned above while practicing the pose.
- You should try to bring your thighs as parallel to the floor as possible. This will increase the strength of thighs and calves.
- Do not try to bring your torso forward while practicing Utkatasana or The Chair Pose. Always try to bring your chest up and back as much as possible. Keep your weight on your heels. Shifting the weight forward can over-stress your knees and fatigue you quickly.
- Always be aware of your breath and the stretch in your body while practicing the asana. And also remember to breathe smoothly and evenly while holding the pose.
- Instead of lifting the neck upwards, try to keep your head and neck in a neutral position if you feel sprain or pain in the neck while holding the Utkatasana or The Chair Pose.