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Chair Pose (utkatasana)

Standing posture that strengthens your lower body and torso.
 

Chair Pose (or utkatasana) is a standing pose that strengthens your lower body and torso. This pose also stretches your shoulders and opens your chest.
 
As you bend your knees to lower your hips in this pose, allow your torso to lean over your thighs slightly. However, your torso should remain as upright as possible, keeping your head aligned with your spine.
 
You can deepen Chair Pose by lowering your hips a bit further, but you should not feel any strain in your knees or lower back. Make sure you do not lower your hips below your knees or allow your knees to extend past your toes. You should be able to look down and see your toes.
 
While performing the pose, make sure you keep your feet firmly planted on the floor. Your legs should feel stable and grounded. You should also concentrate on breathing deeply and evenly to help release any tension in your legs or any other part of your body.
 
Use caution performing Chair Pose if you have hip or knee problems.
 
Steps:
Begin in Mountain Pose.
Inhale as you raise your arms above your head, with your palms facing each other, shoulder width apart.
(Make sure your shoulders and arms are relaxed. Your arms should be straight, but your elbows should not be locked.)
Exhale as you bend your knees as if you were about to sit in a chair until you feel a comfortable stretch in the front of your thighs. Do not lower your hips below your knees.
(Make sure your heels stay on the floor.)
Tuck your tailbone under to protect your lower back from arching.
(Make sure your knees do not extend past your toes and your knees are hip width apart.)
Point the crown of your head toward the ceiling and gaze straight ahead.
Hold the pose for 10 seconds to 1 minute.
To come out of the pose, inhale as you straighten your legs. Then exhale as you bring your arms back down to your sides. Return to Mountain Pose.
 
Modification:
You can perform Chair Pose with your arms extended in front of you. This modification is easier on your shoulders and arms and can also help you maintain your balance. Perform Chair Pose, except raise your arms to shoulder height in front of you, instead of above your head.
 
My lower back feels strained in Chair Pose. What can I do?
You can place your hands on the top of your thighs as you perform the pose. This modification can ease the strain in your lower back by supporting the weight of your body with your arms.
 
How can I stretch my arms and upper body more in Chair Pose?
Perform the pose as described above, except interlace your fingers above your head and then rotate your wrists so your palms face the ceiling. Then stretch your arms toward the ceiling. I find it difficult to hold Chair Pose.
 
How can I modify the pose to give me more stability?
If you have difficulty holding Chair Pose, you can perform the pose using a wall for support. Stand approximately one foot away from a wall with your back to the wall. As you bend your knees to move into the pose, your tailbone should lightly touch the wall. You may need to adjust your distance from the wall to ensure you are in the correct position.
 
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