Chair Pose (Utkatasana) is a complex pose that challenges your core, back, and thighs.
Chair Pose Step by Step (2 Ways to Do It)
Before you begin this pose, warm up your body and stretch your shoulders, hips, and glutes. Next, enter the mountain pose, which is the starting point for many poses (including for the one we will be talking about today).
Grab the mat and stand with your feet only a few inches apart from each other. Make sure to keep them aligned.
Next, bring your feet closer till your big toes are touching each other. Slowly lift the balls of your feet and make sure your weight does not push down on one leg more than the other.
Distribute your body weight equally on both feet and tighten your upper legs. Keep your spine straight.
Many people have the tendency to engage one leg more than the other. Usually, the right one is better at carrying the weight. But this time, make a conscious effort to focus on balancing things out.
Pull your shoulders back and keep your chest area open. Let your arms hang near your body and keep your back straight and engaged.
After you close the mountain pose, you can initiate the chair pose by focusing on your breath as you transition from standing up to lowering your hips into a squat position.
Breathe in as you slowly bring your arms forward with your palms facing the floor. Keep your arms straight, and keep your arm muscles engaged yet relaxed.
Make sure you do a warm-up before you begin. Otherwise, your arms might be stiff and it will be quite challenging to hold them straight during the pose.
Next, as you exhale, begin slowly bending your knees into a squat position and try relaxing your shoulders.
If you have troubles concentrating on your breathing, or if you fear you will lose you balance, try focusing on a spot on the wall.
You can also light a candle and focus on it as you control your breathing.
Do not try to hold the chair pose for too long until you are sure that you have enough strength in your legs and core.
At first, focus on your posture, not on how long you maintain this pose. Do not allow your back to arch.
Try to picture your spine as a straight, flat line. Any posture modifications in which the back has a bad posture can lead to injuries.
Hold the pose for at least 6 breath cycles.
The secret is to not overdo it. The point of the pose is to help you relax, not to make cause you to struggle.
When you are ready to move to the next pose, inhale and slowly transition into the mountain.
Modified Chair Pose for Beginners
If you are afraid you are going to fall down, start by making the transition from the mountain pose into a wide squat position.
The further your legs are apart from one another, the more control you have over your body.
If you are still having issues holding the pose even after keeping a distance between your feet, try leaning against a wall.
The only challenge left is keeping your back muscles engaged and your spine straight, which is easier once you no longer have to focus on maintaining your balance.
Your arms might be in pain if you never tried this pose before, or if you did not warm up properly.
To avoid any injuries and pain, try adjusting the position by putting your palms together as if you would pray instead of extending them forward.
While you keep your palms in a prayer position, apply pressure by using one palm against the other.
This technique helps you build some strength in your arms without risking any pain or injuries.
Chair Pose Modifications for Advanced Yoga Practitioners
If you are looking to burn some extra calories or challenge yourself, we have something for you too.
This pose modification targets your lower body. To be more specific, it focuses on your thighs and glutes.
For this asana modification, you will need a pillow or a rolled towel that you can place under your thighs.
Squeeze the pillow under your thighs and hold them in place. This movement will engage your thigh muscles and help you build lean mass.
The harder you squeeze, the more you will engage your leg muscles.
It might sound easy, but it should not be attempted by beginners.
The next pose modification is even harder to accomplish.
The challenge is to try to hold the pose as you shift the way your body weight is distributed across your legs.
Before you attempt this pose modification, ask yourself how good your balance is, because maintaining your balance might be quite a challenge.
Start by keeping your knees bent and shifting your weight onto the balls of your feet while stretching your arms forward.
Also, try to lower your hips while keeping your back straight. Arching your back might lead to injuries.
How to Warm up Your Body for the Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
Your arms and shoulders are quite important in the chair pose, and they are often neglected during warmups.
Loosening your shoulders and arms can be helpful since you will be less likely to experience pain, especially as a beginner.
Start by rolling your shoulders forward and back at least 10 times. Next, focus on stretching your arms.
Your legs will also be engaged in the chair pose, so make sure you warm those up as well. You can do so by jogging in place for at least 30 seconds.
Also, squatting a few times can help ease into the pose since it involves holding your bodyweight in a squat position.
Who Benefits the Most from the Chair Pose?
Utkatasana is one of the best poses for those who are looking for a complex asana that impacts a number of muscle groups in the body.
As you hold the pose, you will also notice how quickly you can feel your heart pumping and your body becoming energized.
Not only can it be performed by beginners who want to build some lean mass and improve their posture, but it can also be easily customized for advanced yoga practitioners too.
The chair pose is extremely beneficial for people who are sedentary and have a weak core and bad posture.
We have all seen what a hunching back looks like, or maybe we experience it ourselves. By forcing your back to stay straight during the chair pose, you strengthen your back muscles, core muscles, and muscles that support the spine.
Pregnant women can also benefit from the pose with a few modifications when it comes to the position of their feet.
I have created a short list of physical benefits that will help you figure out if this pose is right for you:
- Heats the body and burns more calories
- Stimulates blood flow
- Builds lean mass in your core, thighs, and glutes
- Improves posture
- Improves mobility
- Increased energy levels
If you suffer from any diseases that originate in your middle section or are linked to your digestive system, the breath of fire, and working on your third chakra in general, can help you gain better control over your body.
On top of this, there are some positive effects on the mental health of the yoga practitioner:
- Increased energy and confidence
- Lower stress levels
- Lower anxiety levels
Because the chair pose deals with the third chakra, the one that is usually more powerful in ambitious and driven personalities, we also get an energy and confidence boost if we stimulate our inner fire.
People who always doubt themselves, delay important decisions, and are often anxious about the future will probably benefit the most from the chair pose
The Breath of Fire
The breath of fire is a breathing technique that will help you get the most out of the chair pose.
While holding the pose, take a deep breath and let your abdominal muscles “feel” the air by leaving your belly softly expand.
When exhaling, use the force in your muscles to get the air out through abdominal contractions.
The next time you inhale, force your abdominal muscles to hold the air and then release it with rhythmic contractions.
Start slow and as you get used to the technique you can increase the speed at which you get the air in and out of your body while engaging your core muscles.
Make sure you never use the breath of fire as part of your yoga routine after a meal.
How the Chair Pose Impacts Your Third Chakra
You have probably heard about chakras by now and their effects on mental and physical health.
The chair pose impacts the third chakra, the Manipura or Solar Plexus Chakra that lies in our middle section and deals with our inner strength.
The breath of fire works so well with the chair pose because it deals with the Manipura, the chakra that symbolizes our inner fire, courage, strength, confidence and energy.
While our chakras are constantly changing, it is good to know whether you would personally benefit from a pose that stimulates your solar energy.
If you experience any of these symptoms, then the chair pose will help you out unlock your inner fire and get your energies balanced:
- You are often confused and anxious about the future
- You delay important decisions
- Fear of being in the spotlight
- Fear of criticism
- Low energy levels
- Low self-esteem
While we all experience moments in which we fear the opinion of others or we are confused about what we should do next, being permanently inundated by these emotions can be a sign of a weak third chakra.
To enhance our third chakra, we can use meditation techniques, breathing techniques, and asanas that deal with the core, such as the chair pose.
If you experience headaches, high blood pressure, or back pain, you should probably avoid this pose.
The chair pose heats up the body quickly and it can make your heart race quite a bit. So, if you take medication for hypertension, you should avoid this pose altogether.
Yoga practitioners who suffer from heart issues and diabetes should also avoid this pose.
The back will be quite challenged in this pose. Therefore, while it does help your spine, it will do more harm than good if you are already experiencing back pain.
Also, if you just had a meal, you should probably wait at least 4 hours before giving the chair pose a try.
The breath of fire, along with the challenging core movements, can lead to nausea,vomiting, and dizziness if done right after a meal.
Did you benefit from this article? Did I miss anything? Any feedback or suggestions would be appreciated – please post in the comments and I will personally respond!
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