Student bending the knee straight forward and backward

If you are looking for an exercise that’s good for your legs and your butt, then look no further. The chair pose is the real deal!

In yoga practice, there are so many poses to do and choose from. Every pose caters to particular parts of our bodies and our minds; yoga is known to aid in stress management. By getting into these positions, we are getting various health benefits. Isn’t that great?

If you are just starting yoga for the first time, you are probably learning the yoga poses. However, studying them in books is not entirely the same as actually doing them. Some yoga positions can be a little bit tricky or challenging so you must know exactly how to do them right. Fortunate in this article, we will be helping you in that aspect.

Here, we will be giving you a guide on how to execute the chair pose in yoga right.

But first, what is the chair pose/utkatasana?

Before heading to the “how to do it” part, first, you must understand what the chair pose is. The chair pose or utkatasana is a yoga pose that is regarded as a fierce pose or a powerful pose. It may be ironic to relate the term “chair” to “powerful” since when we think of a chair, it involves a lot of sitting. However, the reason why this is referred to as a power pose is that it’s an intense position that engages your legs, thighs, and gets your heart pumping fast. It’s a good way to improve the strength and stamina of your body.

The chair pose is an important part of the Sun Salutations sequence. It is commonly used as a transitional pose which means it warms up the muscle groups that will be affected in the next pose.

The core benefits of the chair pose

The chair pose may be an awkward-looking position but it provides a lot of benefits to the body. It strengthens your thighs and your ankles and tones your shoulders, hips, butt, and back. It is a therapeutic pose for flat feet. Furthermore, the chair pose can open your chest and stretch your shoulders as well as tone your heart and digestive organs.

Doing this pose builds a lot of heat in your body at a fast rate. It also increases your heart rate as you hold the position for several breaths, which stimulates your circulatory and metabolic systems.

Cautions

Do not practice the chair pose/utkatasana if you are experiencing the following:

  • headaches
  • low blood pressure
  • insomnia

Always work within the range of your capabilities. If you have any medical-related concerns, consult your doctor. You can also ask the guidance of a yoga teacher when you sign up for yoga class.

How to do the chair pose

Doing the chair pose in yoga class is both a physical and mental challenge. This position may seem simple but the part of holding it is the tricky one. Fortunately, we have created a step-by-step guide that you can follow to correctly execute this pose.

Step 1

You start from the mountain pose or tadasana. Stand with your knees and feet together. If you are still a beginner, you can adjust by keeping your feet a hip-width distance apart to give you support.

Step 2

Inhale as you raise your arms to the sky, making sure that they are perpendicular to the floor.

Step 3

Exhale as you bend your knees to the point that your thighs are parallel to the floor. Your knees must be hovering over your toes and your weight (approximately 80 percent of your total weight) should be put on the heels of your feet. You must be leaning your torso slightly forward as you open your chest, making your torso form a right angle over your thighs.

Step 4

Draw your shoulder blades back to your upper back as you pull your elbows towards your ears. Do not expand your ribcage forward but instead draw your navel up and to activate your deep core muscles and lengthen your lower back and spine.

Step 5

Lift yourself through your heart but bring your hips down even lower. You will notice that your upper back will slightly bend.

Step 6

Breathing is crucial in doing the poses so make sure that your breathing at this point is smooth, deep, and even. If you feel like your breaths are getting strained or shallow, you can just back off from the pose and resume once you regain its normality.

Step 7

Remember on the first step we asked you to lift your arms? Now, make sure to keep your shoulder blades apart as you do that. The palms of your hands must be facing each other.

Step 8

Keep your gaze forward. However, if you desire to deepen the post, you can tilt your head upwards toward the space between your raised hands.

Step 9

Maintain the position for up to one minute. Afterward, inhale and straighten your legs as you lift yourself through your arms. Exhale and go back to the tadasana mountain pose. If you are practicing the Sun Salutations sequence, you must follow-up the chair pose with the standing forward fold or uttanasana.

What are the variations and modifications of the chair pose?

The chair pose is a perfect way to strengthen your whole body when it’s done perfectly. However, it can be quite challenging for some to build up enough strength to maintain the posture even for a minute. Do not feel pressured to do the pose correctly right away. Take some time to learn it but avoid overstressing your knees or shoulders. Fortunately for you, here are some modifications and variations of the pose that you can do to make it easier.

  • If you can’t balance your feet together, you can create a small space between your knees and feet to have a more stable stance.
  • If your shoulders are flexible, you can press your palms together as you lift your arms overhead.
  • If your arms aren’t strong enough to be lifted overhead, you can opt to raise them at shoulder-level. Practice it this way until you can slowly work your way towards extending them overhead.
  • It’s not easy to put your weight on your heels at first. Instead, try practicing this pose near a wall to learn how to distribute the weight evenly. As you stand, make sure that your back is a few inches away from the wall.
  • If you want to increase the strength of your thighs and improve body awareness, you can place a block between your upper thighs.
  • If you’re experiencing pain in your shoulders, you can adjust by placing your hands near your sternum in a praying position. Broaden your collarbones.
  • To make it deeper, bend your knees while lifting onto the balls of your feet. Sit your butt much lower toward your heels as you extend your arms straight forward.

Utkatasana—the powerful pose you must practice

Now that you know how to do the chair pose properly, it’s time to add it to your workout list! It’s a great and healthy addition that will improve your well-being.

About the Author​

Lynette is fully dedicated to the support and empowerment of the growing community of committed yoga students and teachers. As one of the Lead Instructors for Yoga Teacher Training, she is here to share tips on how to grow your profile as a yoga teacher or build a yoga business either physically or digitally.