Step-by-Step Yoga Pose: Chair

Yoga Pose Chair

Seasons are in flux and you may find yourself swept away by all of the change surrounding you. That’s why it’s an ideal time of year to launch a grounding self-care practice. We’re excited to bring you our Yoga Pose series to inspire you to root and rise. Check back each week for a new yoga pose to aspire to!

Chair Pose

Alias: Utkatasana (“intense/powerful/wild pose”)

Why Chair?

It’s time to build and harness some energy. Utkatasana can be translated to mean intense, powerful, even wild. Spend 30–60 seconds in the pose and you may start to understand why. Benefits of Chair Pose:

  • Strengthen quadriceps, ankle and foot muscles
  • Tone arms, shoulders and core
  • Practice focus
  • Build intensity while raising the heart rate

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Getting into the posture:

  • Start standing with feet placed hip-width
  • Bring feet together to touch. Rock your weight mostly to the back part of the feet.
  • Pick one, unmoving point to focus on (drsti in Sanskrit).
  • Shift your weight back, bend the knees and bring your hips down as if sitting into a chair.
  • Check to make sure you can see your toes. Move your knees back until you can see the toes to help protect the lower back.
  • Inhale as you lift arms overhead with hands shoulder-width apart.
    • Focus on your arms: Relax the neck and drop your shoulders slightly. Rotate your pinkie fingers in.
    • Focus on your core: Pull belly to spine. If your ribs arch forward, gently bring them back in to help straighten the spine.
    • Focus on your legs: Find depth by moving hips slightly back or deepening more into the knees.
  • Stay in pose for 15 seconds – 1 minute.
  • To exit the pose, stand up and release arms down to your sides.
  • Repeat as desired.
  • Tip for success: Relax the jaw and throat—clenching does you no good.

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Variations/Modifications:

  • Stand near a wall or railing and use it to help with balance.
  • Try the seated chair variation:
    • Simply sit down on a chair, pull the belly in and lift your arms overhead to shoulder-width apart. Pinkies rotate in slightly. Focus on keeping the core and arm muscles engaged.
  • If the posture is too much for your shoulders:
    • Lower the shoulders for hugging-the-tree arm variation (pictured)
    • Bring hands to meet in front of chest (prayer pose).
  • Advanced practitioners: Play with different arm variations, close your eyes or try chair with one foot lifted.

Contraindications (i.e., things to keep in mind):

  • If you have a history of touchy knees or ankles, try practicing chair pose from a chair (seated chair pose variation).
  • Lower back pain: if the pose begins to irritate your low back, check to make sure the belly is pulled in and you are using your abdominal muscles. If that does not immediately alleviate the pressure, come out of the pose and try the seated chair variation.
  • Shoulder woes: Try a different arm variation or leave the arms at your side and focus on the legs and core.

Now take your newfound energy and focus out into the world to conquer whatever life throws your way!

*The term asana means “posture/pose” in the physical yoga practice.

Natalie Sober is a yoga enthusiast who is inspired to share her knowledge. Natalie completed her first RYT-200 hour yoga teacher training course in Telkot, Nepal, in the Sanatan style of yoga. She is currently pursuing her second RYT-200 certification in the Power Vinyasa style. She also happens to be the newest member of Pharmaca’s marketing department.

*Please consult your physician before beginning this series or any exercise program. As always, your body is the best teacher so listen to the cues it gives regarding whether or not a pose is a good idea. 

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