Chair Pose (Utkatasana) has several benefits, including strengthening the thigh muscles, stretching and strengthening the calf muscles, working the inner thighs, gluteus muscles, hip flexors. This pose also brings fire to the belly, focus to the mind. It opens the chest and shoulders, strengthens and improves range of motion in the ankles and can increase blood circulation, especially if your arms are up over head, making the heart work to get the blood moving upward.
It’s a very rejuvenating pose, especially for the middle of the week.
Cautions include lower back pain/injuries, knee pain/injuries, ankle pain/injuries, shoulder sensitivities/injuries and neck sensitivities.
Modifications include adjusting range of motion, only sinking down slightly as back allows; only raising arms to chest level if you have shoulder sensitivities or you can cross your arms in front of the chest as well; be sure to look at the floor, about three, four feet in front of you so as not to strain the neck; keep your tailbone slightly tucked and your belly button pulled in toward the spine to ensure a straight back; use a block between the thighs to engage the inner thighs mores.
- Stand with feet either close together or hip-width apart. Inhale arms up and exhale as you hinge from the hips and fold forward, letting the head and neck relax as you hang like a rag doll for a moment.
- Plant our feet and heels firmly into the ground as you inhale, reaching your arms forward as you slowly raise your torso up while sinking your hips down. Your weight is in the heels.
- Your torso is at a 45 to 55 degree or so angle and your biceps should be in line with your ears, shoulders locked in, abdomen engaged with the belly button pulling in toward the spine and tailbone slightly tucked.
- Breathe, focusing on a spot on the floor four or so feet in front of you. Feel the slight burn in the thighs, the heart activated and the body warming up.
- When ready, gently press into the feet and either raise the arms and torso all the way up as you come out, then bring the arms slowly down into prayer position in front of the heart, or you can lower the arms gently as you press up into Mountain pose, palms facing forward. Breathe some more with eyes closed and feel the blood flowing through the body and take in the rejuvenation.