Chair Pose: Take a Seat to Increase Your Strength

Chair pose, also known as Utkatasana, is a great pose to build strength in your whole body. When you look at a picture of Chair pose, you see a person sitting in mid-air, so you know you will be building leg and core strength. However, what you may not realize is that there is a tremendous amount of work from large muscles and stabilizers from your feet through the top of your head. Truly, Chair pose is a total body workout.

Initially, notice how the muscles in your feet and legs feel. As your pelvis rotates out, notice how your core responds. When your arms lift, feel your muscles work to reach your arms overhead while keeping broad collarbones. Finally, let the thoracic spine soften and let your heart melt forward; enjoy the softness of the spinal extension.

Chair pose

  1. Begin in Tadasana.
  2. Lift your toes so you can feel the four corners of your feet press evenly into the floor. (The four corners are:  under the big toe, under the little toe, and the inside and outside of the heel.) Hug the muscles of your feet and ankles to the bone to help you stay centered.
  3. We will be using ujjayi breathing.
  4. Place your hands on your hips and rotate your pelvis so you can feel your SITs bones point at the baseboard behind you.
  5. Lengthen your spine and draw your low belly to your spine for support.
  6. Utkatasana/Chair posePut a bend in your knees and sit back as if you are sitting back into a chair. You should feel a lot of your weight in your heels. If you feel your weight more in your toes, you are too far forward and will cause yourself knee pain.
  7. First bring your arms straight in front of you with the palms facing each other. Make sure that you can do this while keeping your shoulders down and collarbones broad. If you can do this, raise your arms so that your upper arms are on the outsides of your ears.
  8. As you hold, soften your upper back. Imagine you are letting your heart melt forward.
  9. Hold for 5-8 breaths.
  10. When you are finished, press evenly and firmly into your feet and return to Tadasana.

Change Your Chair Pose

Perhaps you’re already familiar with Chair pose. Here are some ideas¬†to help you change things.

  • Use a wall. Let your back slide down the wall. Make sure your knees are above your ankles.
  • Place a block between your inner thighs. This will encourage your adductors (inner thighs) to activate a little more. In about 75% of people, engaging the adductors encourages abdominal engagement. Therefore, this version helps shift the focus to your abs.
  • Put a bend in your knees to get into Chair pose. I like to inhale and reach up, exhale and put a bend in my knees as I go into Uttanasana, and have my finger tips touch down on either the floor or blocks. Then, I sit back into Chair pose and lift my upper body. Getting into Chair pose this way really helps me make sure I have my SITs bones rotated out enough.

Chair Pose Video

Here is a video for visual learners.

How do you do Chair pose? Let us know in the comments below.

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Sarah Stockett is STOTT certified in Matwork, Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, & Barrels, Injuries & Special Populations, and CORE; a Yoga Alliance RYT-200; and has studied Active Isolated Stretching. When she is not trying to discover the best exercises to get rid of pain, she likes watching movies and travelling with her family.

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