Trying to listen to alignment cues in a yoga class and understanding the right positioning can be overwhelming. Especially if you’re a complete beginner and simply trying to just keep up! That’s why every month I will break down a pose, show you how to get into it safely, highlight its benefits and offer one or two top tips.
Continuing our series of standing poses, let’s take a look at Chair Pose, also referred to as Utkatasana in Sanskrit.
Establishing the Foundation of the Pose
- To begin, you can stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) and establish a firm foundation.
- Also known as a drishti, find an unmoving point to focus on with your eyes and soften your gaze.
- As you inhale, raise your arms above your head, palms facing each other, bringing your upper arms in line with your ears.
Moving into the Pose
- As you exhale, bend your knees and begin to move as though sitting back into an invisible chair
- Aiming to bring the thighs parallel towards the floor, try to bring the knees back over the ankles
- The torso naturally begins to lean forward over the thighs in this position
- Picture the shape of a lightning bolt and work towards that shape
Maintaining the Pose
- Bring weight into the heels
- Try to keep the knees in line with each other with the inner thighs parallel and strong
- Aim to keep the upper arms in line with the ears
- Lengthen the tailbone down towards the floor
- Relax the shoulders down, away from the ears and firm the shoulder blades against the back
- Stay here for a couple of breaths
Completing the Pose
- On the inhalation, press into the feet to straighten the knees and lift up through the arms
- As you exhale, release the arms by your sides and return to Tadasana.
Benefits of the Pose
- Improves sense of balance
- Strengthens the ankles, calves, thighs and spine
- Stretches the shoulders and the chest
- Calms the mind
This can be a challenging pose if you have tight shoulders. A nice modification is to widen the arms and free up the space in the shoulders. In the beginning, it also helps to squeeze a block between the thighs to increase strength and improve alignment.
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