‘Utkata’= powerful, fierce, or wild, ‘āsana’= posture
Lightning Bolt Pose
Difficulty Level: Beginner
Pose Type: Standing / Balance / Stretch / Forward-Bend
• Straight ahead – Eye level
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).
• 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
• 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.
• 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)
• 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
• 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.
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.
• Mula Bandha
Additional information on this asana can be found in your textbooks
- In “THE ART OF VINYASA: Awakening Body and Mind through the Practice of Ashtanga Yoga” textbook by Richard Freeman & Mary Taylor textbook.
- In PART TWO: Āsana: Movements and Poses Strung Together Like Jewels on the Thread of the Breath in Chapter 6 “Standing Poses”, this asana can be found as “UTKAṬĀSANA – Difficult Pose“.
- In “Yoga Anatomy – Second Edition” by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthew textbook.
- CHAPTER 6 – STANDING POSES, this asana can be found as “Utkatasana – Chair Pose, Awkward Pose“.