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Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
With Dr Kiki Morriss
Sun Salutation 2022
Throughout 2022, OM is exploring all the key poses that make up the Sun Salutation sequence, yoga’s most familiar and graceful sequence, as well as additional asana that can be added to create diversity within the flow. This month we look at Chair Pose, a strengthening pose that follows Mountain Pose in Sun Salutation B. It mimics the action of sitting in a chair, and is also known as Fierce Pose.
CHAIR POSE (UTKATASANA)
MOVING INTO THE POSE
- In Mountain Pose, press your feet and legs together.
- On an exhalation, bend your knees.
- On an inhalation, lift your arms on either side of your head and shoulder-width apart.
FOCUS YOUR GAZE
- Lift your face towards the sky.
- Tilt your head back slightly, but keep the back of your neck long.
- Avoid letting the weight of your head hang back.
- Your focal point (drishti) is your hands. Alternatively close your eyes and draw your focus inwards.
HANDS, ARMS & SHOULDERS
- Lift your arms using the front part of your deltoids.
- Activate your triceps to straighten your elbows.
- Use your infraspinatus to externally rotate your shoulders.
- Use the lower third of your trapezius to soften your shoulders away from your ears.
- Hold your fingers and thumbs together, so they are not splayed apart.
- Turn your palms to face each other.
HIPS & LEGS
- Keep your heels on the mat, and spread your weight evenly across both feet.
- Press your heels firmly into the ground.
- Activate your adductor muscles to press your knees and inner thighs together.
- Use your psoas muscles to flex your hips.
- Bend your knees and use your quadriceps muscles to stabilise your lower body.
- Use your gluteus maximus to counterbalance the forward tilt of your pelvis created by your hip flexors.
- Soften the front of your ribcage, and draw it down by using your rectus abdominis.
- Draw your coccyx down towards the ground.
- Lengthen through your spine, and avoid overarching your lumbar spine.
- If necessary, move your arms wider apart to maintain the alignment and neutral position of your spine.
- Strengthens your shoulders, hips, knees and ankles.
- Develops focus and stamina.
- Improves posture.
- To make the pose less intense, try reducing the bend of your knees, or bring your hands into Prayer Pose in front of your chest.
- To make it easier to balance, try standing with your feet hip-width apart, keeping your knees aligned with your ankles.
- Practice Chair Pose with caution if you have high blood pressure or back, knee or ankle issues.