How to do the Utkatasana Pose
- Stand at the top of the mat in mountain pose (tadasana). Bring your toes and knees together and your heels just slightly apart.
- Root firmly through the four corners of your feet: the right side of the heel, the left side of the heel, the ball of the foot right below the pinky toe, and the ball of the foot right below the big toe.
- Raise your arms above your head, palms facing inwards. Keep your arms perpendicular to the floor or bring your palms together above your head.
- Scoop your pubis towards your navel to bring your tailbone forward. Maintaining this pelvic tilt throughout the pose will lengthen the spine and prevent swayback.
- Exhale. Sit back and, keeping your knees together, bend them towards 90° angles. Look down. If you can’t see your feet in front of your knees, shift your knees back until you can see your toes. Look up.
- Roll your shoulder blades down and back, creating space around your neck. Engage your adductor muscles by drawing your inner thighs towards each other.
- Breath and hold the pose.
- Inhale and straighten the legs. Exhale and release your arms to your sides. Shake out the legs.
Modifications and Props
Tight Shoulder Modification. You want to keep space around your neck in chair pose. If your shoulders are tight and bunch up towards your ears when your palms are together, bring your hands further apart.
Revolved Chair Pose (Parivrtta Utkatasana). Take full chair pose. Bring your palms together in prayer pose (anjali mudra) at heart center. Exhale and turn your upper body to the right. Hook your left elbow on the outside of your right knee. Look over your right shoulder. Keep your knees parallel. Breath and hold the pose. Inhale and come back to center. Exhale and repeat on the opposite side.
For a strength building sun or moon salutation, insert a chair pose right after mountain pose (tadasana) at the beginning of the salutation and right before mountain pose at the end of the salutation.
Hip flexors. The hip flexors are a large group of muscles located deep in the thighs, hips, and buttocks. They connect the leg, pelvis, and abdomen and allow you to lift your upper leg towards your body or bend your body over your upper leg. Although really sitting in a chair for long periods of time weakens the hip flexors, leaning over your thighs in chair pose actually strengthens them.
Quadriceps. The quadriceps muscles cover the front and sides of the femur, making up much of the muscle mass of the thighs. The quads stabilize and allow extension of the knee joint. Chair pose builds strength in the quads, which engage when the legs are bent.
Adductor muscles. Chair pose engages the adductor muscles in the inner thighs. These muscles are responsible for leg movement away from the center of the body as, for example, during a star jump or split. Engage your adductor muscles by drawing your inner thighs towards each other during the pose.
Gluteal muscles. The gluteal muscle group includes the three buttocks muscles: the gluteus maximus, the gluteus medius, and the gluteus minimus. To tone the glutes in chair pose, avoid clenching the buttocks. The gluteal muscles should be firm in the pose, but not hard.
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