Utkatasana or Chair Pose

Utkatasana or Chair Pose

Utkatasana or Chair Pose

What's up, everyone? Today we're going to learn chair pose or utkatasana, or they also call it the fierce pose or chair pose.  We're going to check in with the lower body, stay nice, open, and graceful in the upper body. And learn the foundations of chair pose. So let's hop to it.

 We're going to begin today standing in mountain pose. Go ahead and bring your feet flush together, and stand up nice and tall. Take a deep breath in, and exhale. Drop your gaze, drop your chin to your chest, and take your eyeballs down towards your feet. So we're going to start at the feet here. So lifting the toes, perhaps pressing into the ball joint of the big toe, the ball joint of the pinkie toe, and the back two corners of the heels. Then release your toes down. And then we're going to create just a little bit of space between the heels.

 So keep the front part of your foot where it is. Soft knees here as we slide the heels open, maybe just about a thumb print's worth. So the tops of the thighs spiral in. We take a deep breath in, bring the hands to the waistline. And on an exhale, bend your knees generously. This is the foundations of yoga, so we're breaking it down. What tends to happen here is the pelvis sticks out, the lower back sways, and the ribcage just kind of pushes up. This looks awkward because it is. And it's uncomfortable. We're going to take care of this. 

The tops of the thighs are going to spiral in. Very important. Go ahead and bring one palm to your belly and one palm to your lower back. The lower back is going to lengthen, and the way we're going to do that is we're going to draw the tailbone down. Now, keep your knees bent, my friends, and again a little bit of space between your two heels. If this is hurting your knees, and you still want to practice the foundations of utkatasan, go ahead and practice this with the feet hip-width apart, big toes turned in just slightly. 

So we have an option to be here or here. But I want to teach this with the feet flush together to start just because I feel like that'll help those of you who have been practicing and asking me about this posture. It'll help you in your practice. Okay. So the tailbone is lengthening down. Use your hands here to draw the lower belly in, lengthen the tailbone down. Great. The hands can come back to the waistline here, and we draw the chin into the chest just slightly. Find that length through the back of the neck. So another thing that tends to happen is we end up being here. 

So again, we're breaking it down, finding length in the neck. The quads are starting to talk to you. I ran yesterday so my legs are definitely starting to talk to me. Begin to shift your weight a little front and back now. Again, just feeling out the feet. And then I'm going to rock back, and imagine my sit bones hovering over my heels. For me, this is like the tip of all tips in utkatasan, for me and my body. It's imagining my sit bones melting down over my heels.

 So that's a nice little alignment tip for me. Again, notice how as we hang out here longer, the tail bone is going to want to come out to compensate for the engaging of the quads. So be strong. Hang on. Tuck your pelvis, lengthen the tailbone down. You'll find that open lift in the heart. Draw your shoulder blades in together and down the back. And then on a swift breath in, we'll send the fingertips up towards the sky. Now, keep the shoulders plugged in here. So here's an example of being here, and then opening and plugging in. Bend the elbows. In fact, soft elbows as much as you need here as you spread the fingertips. Then we're going to sink a little deeper, bending the knees. And again, you can imagine the sit bones hovering over the heels here. 

Now, remember that lengthen the back of the neck. So many things. That's why we have Foundations of Yoga. I love it. And I'm lifting my toes here to really spread awareness throughout all four corners of the feet. So again, I've started us down at the feet. You can keep your gaze soft here.  And start at the feet and travel up, drawing energy up from the arches of the feet to relax the toes down whenever you want. Tops of the thighs are spiraling inward, bending at the knee. Sit bones hover over the heels, tailbone lengthens down as the lower belly draws in. 

We've been talking on the blog a lot about this knitting of the lower ribcage. So once again, I'll show you just this visual. It's the lower ribs drawing in. So rather than just sticking out...  I'm drawing it in. Tailbone lengthens down and the lower ribcage begins to come in. Like we're focusing a pair of binoculars or a corset kind of drawing in. So I'm engaging these intercostals. There's a lot going on here. Often, we just isolate the lower body, but the upper body is working hard too here in utkatasan. A fiery pose, for sure. So rest when you need to, and come back.

 We're going to loop the shoulders. Again, open the heart, open through the chest. Now, turn your pinkies in towards the front edge of your mat, and allow the tops of the shoulders to drop down in the socket. These are all little checkpoints of chair pose. And maybe we sink a little bit deeper after a break or two. And then eventually... Go ahead and take a break. Everyone stand up nice and tall. Eventually, we're going to work to where we're getting the backs of the thighs more parallel with the earth. But just take your time, working with integrity, working with alignment. If you want to focus on the lower body, you can interlace the fingertips behind the tail. Open up through the chest, and then just focus your awareness on the lower body so the arms aren't getting tired up there.

 Hands-on the waistline is also a good place to just practice with weight distribution, and also that lengthening of the tailbone. All right. So I'm going to inhale, reach my fingertips up one more time. Sink really deep knit the lower ribcage in, and go through my checklist. Nice, long, beautiful neck as the gaze goes straight down in front of my nose. I take one more nice fiery breath here and then exhale. Everyone's going to enjoy this move as we press through all four corners of the feet. Stand up nice and tall. Lift your kneecaps, engage your quads, full-body stretch, and exhale. Palms back down at the heart. Great work, everyone.

 So that was the foundations of chair pose or utkatasan. This is a pose that has definitely unfolded for me. It sounds cheesy, but it's so true. I used to hate it. A lot of teachers always joke about it being everyone's favorite pose. But I actually do like this pose now. You know I wouldn't lie to you. Stick with it. Return to this video. Keep going through your checklist within this posture. It's nice to slow it down at home with your home practice, because sometimes in public class you just move too swiftly, or not too swiftly, but you move swiftly, and you can't quite get into all the little nooks and crannies of the pose.

Beginner's Tip

To enable you to remain in this posture, perform it close to a divider. Stand with your back to the wall, a few inches away from the wall. Modify your position comparative with the divider so when you twist into the position, your tailbone just contacts and is upheld by the divider.


Reinforces the lower legs, thighs, calves, and spine
Stretches shoulders and chest
Animates the stomach organs, stomach, and heart
Diminishes level feet
Lessens side effects of level feet
Tones the leg muscles superbly


As you twist your knees, lift up onto the wads of your feet and sit your hindquarters down on your raised impact points. Expand your arms forward, parallel to one another and the floor, palms down or confronting internal.

     I wish you the best as you discover how utkatasana unfolds. Keep digging through the foundations of yoga playlist. Of course, leave any questions or comments below. I love hearing from you guys. if you haven't already. And I'll see you next time. Namaste.


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