Utkatasana is a standing pose which is commonly known as Chair Pose, due to its appearance, though the direct translation is Fierce Pose.
The Sanskrit translation refers to the characteristics of pride, fierceness and power. Utkatasana truly strengthens and stretches from the ankles, all the way up to the shoulders, leaving you feeling powerful from head to toe, just as the name suggests.
- Sanskrit Name: Utkatasana
- Utkata: fierce, powerful
- Asana: Pose
How to do:
Although there are no wild contortions here, this simple looking pose will give your thighs a great workout. Utkatasana requires strong quads, knees, and thighs from the get go. Those who have weaker lower bodies may find it hard to stay in the pose for an extended period of time.
By starting the pose in a squat position, you’re already establishing a heavy reliance on your leg muscles. Deepen the bend in your knee, to ensure you’re starting out in the right position. This element of the pose is where the idea of sitting on a chair is derived. Imagine you have an imaginary seat beneath your knees and go from there. If you feel any pain or discomfort, bring yourself out of the pose.
You should keep in mind the position of your pelvis, as if it’s not aligned it can cause damage, wear and tear on your knees, spine and lower back. Carelessness here could result in future pain or injury. Make sure to keep your tailbone tucked in and your core strong.
If you’re finding it difficult to keep your knees facing forward, grab a yoga block and place it between your thighs. You’ll need to make sure your feet are a hip width apart to use this method.
As with any pose, there are ways you can increase or decrease the difficulty level. If you’re a beginner and are finding it a challenge to complete the pose in full, try putting your hands on your knees. If you’re comfortable with the original pose and would like to deepen it, raise your hands and eyes up to the sky and hold.
Utkatasana is one of the best poses you can try for strengthening legs, calves and the lower back. It’s also excellent for stimulating various abdominal organs especially since you need to keep your core engaged throughout the pose.
Due to focus on the ankles, legs and lower back, if you’re suffering from a recent injury or have chronic pain in these areas, you should refrain from completing this pose. If you’re prone to dizziness or neck pain, don’t attempt to look up to the ceiling when completing the extended arms version of the pose.