The Chair pose (Utkatasana), also known as Fierce pose or Awkward Chair pose, is a standing yoga asana that involves a deep squat with the arms extended overhead. It’s typically performed at the beginning or during an active sequence.
Chair pose is effective for the entire body, including for strengthening the legs, particularly the quadriceps and glutes, as well as the core and upper body. It’s also a great pose that helps to improve balance and focus.
|Sanskrit Name and Pronunciation:||Utkatasana (OOT-kah-TAHS-anna)|
How to Do the Chair Pose
- Start in Mountain pose with your feet hip-width apart, big toes planted on the floor, and your arms at your sides.
- Inhale and lift your arms overhead, keeping your upper arms (biceps) next to your ears and your shoulder blades down.
- Exhale and bend your knees as you lower your hips back and down as if sitting in an imaginary chair.
- Keep your chest lifted and your spine straight as you hold the pose for several breaths.
- Exhale and straighten your legs as you lower your arms back to your sides.
|Legs:||Quadriceps, Hip Flexors, Hamstrings, Gastrocnemius, Soleus, Tibialis Anterior.|
|Gluteal:||Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus Medius|
|Shoulders:||Deltoids, Trapezius, Rhomboids|
|Abdominals:||Rectus Abdominis, Obliques|
Strengthens the Lower Body
Utkatasana is a powerful pose to help strengthen the quadriceps, glutes, hip flexors, and other leg muscles. One study found that the tibialis anterior, a muscle in the lower leg, was the most activated while practicing the pose. Another study found that practicing the pose can help with strengthening the knees.
Holding the pose while maintaining your balance can help improve your overall balance and coordination.
Increases Focus, Concentration, and Coordination
The Chair pose requires focus and concentration to maintain your balance and position in the pose, which can, in turn, help improve hand-eye coordination.
Holding the pose for an extended period can help increase flexibility in the hips and ankles.
The Chair pose can help to stimulate the digestive system and improve digestion.
Increases Energy and Reduces Stress
The Chair pose can help increase energy levels, reduce fatigue and stress, and improve mood.
Drawbacks and Risks
Like any physical activity, there are potential risks associated with practicing the chair pose, including:
Knee injuries: While it can help improve overall knee strength, you must pay close attention to form because the pose may strain joints if you have weak knees or a history of knee pain.
Lower back injuries: If you have a history of lower back injuries or problems, the chair pose may put extra strain on the lower back. Keep your core engaged and your spine straight to help support the lower back.
Shoulder injuries: If you have weak or injured shoulders, it may be difficult to hold your arms overhead in the chair pose.
Here are some common mistakes to avoid:
- Not keeping the feet hip-width apart: It is important to keep proper alignment when practicing the chair pose to help maintain your balance and stability. You may feel unstable or off balance if your feet are too close together.
- Not keeping the chest lifted: It is important to keep your chest lifted and your spine straight when practicing the chair pose. If you allow your chest to sink or your spine to round, you may put extra strain on your lower back.
- Allowing the knees to collapse inward: It is important to keep your knees aligned over your ankles when practicing the chair pose. If you allow your knees to collapse inward, you may put extra strain on your knees and lower back.
- Not keeping the arms parallel: It is important to keep your arms parallel when practicing the chair pose. If your arms are not parallel, you may lose your balance or put extra strain on your shoulders.
- Not keeping the biceps next to the ears: It is important to keep them next to your ears when practicing the chair pose. If you allow your arms to drift away from your ears, you may lose your balance or put extra strain on your shoulders.
- By avoiding these common mistakes, you can help ensure that you practice the chair pose safely and effectively.
How to Modify
- Use a wall: If you have trouble maintaining your balance in the chair pose, you can use a wall to help you. Stand with your back against the wall and practice the chair pose with your hands on the wall for support.
- Use a chair: If you have trouble lowering your hips to the ground in the chair pose, you can use a chair to help you. Stand in front of the chair and practice the pose with your hands on the back for support.
- Bend the knees less: If you have trouble maintaining a deep squat in the chair pose, you can bend your knees less to make the pose more manageable. You can also try using a strap or a towel around your feet to help you keep your balance.