Chair
UTKATĀSANA (उत्कटासन)
(OOT-kah-TAH-sah-nah)

 


‘Utkata’= powerful, fierce, or wild, ‘āsana’= posture


Alternate Names

Fierce Pose

Powerful Pose
Hazardous Pose
Lightning Bolt Pose
Wild Pose
Awkward Pose

Difficulty Level: Beginner
Pose Type: Standing / Balance / Stretch / Forward-Bend

1. Start in Mountain Pose (Tadasana), with your legs hip distance apart, keeping the back straight, shoulders and arms down, and palms facing forward.
2. Bend your knees and sit back into your hips as you try to bring your thighs almost parallel to the floor.
3. Lift your arms past your head, with your palms facing each other, to frame your ears.
4. Tilt your torso slightly forward so that there is a 45-degree angle from your tailbone, up through your back, and up to the tip of your fingers.
5. Keep your back straight, and your hips squared forward, as you engage your core and thighs for balance. To prevent your ribcage from falling too far forward, pull your shoulders down and back, draw your shoulder blades together, and open your chest.
6. Gaze ahead and slightly down, keeping your neck aligned with your spine and being sure not to tuck in your chin. Relax your jaw and neck.
7. Focus your weight on your heels, squeeze your buttock, draw your abdomen to your spine, and lengthen down through your spine to your tailbone.
8. Hold for several breaths (at least 20 seconds to build strength). Breath smoothly.
9. When ready, release and come back into Mountain Pose (Tadasana).

Common Adjustments
• Neck strained and not in line with the spine
• Shoulders hunched up by ears
• Chin lifted too high / Chin tucked or looking too far down
• Arms not framing ears / Palms not facing each other
• Chest collapsed inward / Ribs popping or back arched
• Knees out too far past the toes
• Toes not facing forward
• Hips not squared forward
• Feet too far apart / Heels lifting off mat

Modifications
• Student with ankle or knee discomfort or have trouble balancing can either move their feet out a little father and/or only bend the knees slightly.
• Students with shoulder injuries or are stiff and feel discomfort, should extend their arms out in front, parallel to the mat. Or they can place their palms together in Prayer Mudra over their heart center.
• Students with trouble balancing can use a wall as support. They can also do squats against the wall or do squats with a ball against the wall to build the strength needed for balancing.
• To build upper body strength, students can start with their hands on their thighs (face down) or in the crease by the groin. Then they can gradually work their way up to putting their arms out straight forward and then finally up to where their arms are overhead and framing their ears.
• To build strength in their thighs, have students practice with their knees slightly wider apart for better balance. This modification is good for pregnant women as well for student that need greater stability and grip. To help keep the knees forward, a block can be placed between them.
• For alignment and to build strength, place a small folded blanket or ball between the knees and a block between the palms.
• For advanced students, they can keep their legs together or touch their palms together over the head while gazing up toward the sky.

Counter Poses
• Forward Bend, Standing (Uttanasana)
• Half Forward Bend, Standing (Ardha Uttanasana)
• Mountain (Tadasana)
• Crescent Lunge (Anjaneyasana)
• High Lunge (Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana)
• Crescent High Lunge, Crescent Moon
• Eight Point Crescent Moon Pose (Ashta Chandrasana or Alanasana)

Anatomy
• Neck• Shoulders (Deltoids)
• Chest (Pectoralis Major and Minor)• Biceps and Triceps
• Upper (Cervical), Middle (Thoracic) and Lower Back (Lumbar) and Spine• Abdomen (Core) and Obliques
• Hips• Gluteus Maximus
• Quadriceps and Hamstrings• Calf muscles
• Knees• Ankles

Benefits
• Strengthens and stretches the neck, shoulders, chest, biceps, triceps, abdomen, lower back, spine, hips, glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, calf muscles, knees, ankles (ankle joints), and feet.
• Opens and tones the chest / diaphragm and shoulders as well as lengthens the spine.
• Increases heart rate and stimulates the heart which helps to build body heat. This also energizes the entire body.
• Helps with stability and grounding.
• Massages internal organs.
• Improves the nervous system, immune system, circulatory system, and reproductive system. It also improves and develops will power, stamina, balance, and focus. This is good for athletes as well as stimulates the mind and reduces stress.
• Therapeutic for lower back pain, lumbago, menstrual cramps, joint pain, and sciatica.

Contraindications
1. This pose should be avoided in you have recent or chronic knee pain or injury, lower back pain or injury, injury to the feet (heels), hips, shoulders or ankles, headaches / migraines (without props), insomnia, vertigo, or low blood pressure.
2. Students with severe arthritis or mild knee discomfort can practice this posture slowly and with modifications, however, they should avoid without proper guidance.

Chakras
Chakra One:Root or Muladhara (root support) Chakra. This is the survival and gravity chakra. Its goals are stability, grounding, prosperity, right livelihood, and physical health. Its location is the base of the spine, coccygeal plexus, legs, feet, and large intestines.
Chakra Two:Sacral or Svadhisthana (sweetness) Chakra. This is the chakra for emotion, sexuality, and attraction of opposites. Its goals are fluidity, pleasure, and relaxation. Its location is the abdomen, genitals, lower back, and hips.
Chakra Four:Heart, Love, or Anahata (Unstuck) Chakra. This is the love and equilibrium chakra. Its goals are balance, compassion, and acceptance. Its location is the heart.
Chakra Five:Throat, Visuddha, Vissudha, Vishuddhi, or Vishuddha (purification) Chakra. This is the communications and sympathetic vibrations chakra. Its goals are clear communication, creativity, and resonance. Its location is the throat.
Charka Six:Third-Eye or Ajna (to perceive) Chakra. This is the intuition and projection chakra. Its goals are psychic perception and imagination. Its location is the brow.



Additional information on this asana can be found in your textbooks

  • In the textbook “Instructing Hatha Yoga – 2nd Edition With Web Resource” by: Diane M. Ambrosini, this posture can be found in Chapter 7 – Standing Postures as “Utkatasana – Fierce, or Chair Pose”.
    • Watch the Chapter 7 video “Utkatasana” found in the Web Resources that come with your textbook “Instructing Hatha Yoga – 2nd Edition With Web Resource” by: Diane M. Ambrosini. This video gives you an additional example of how to practice this asana.
  • In the textbook “YOGA Anatomy – Third Edition” by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthews, this posture can be found in Chapter 8 – STANDING POSES as “UTKATASANA – Chair Pose, Awkward Pose”.

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