Utkatasana - Powerful or Fierce Pose (or Chair Pose)
Tapas is the yogic principal of hard work and dedication. Tapas is the internal fire that fuels a yogi and keeps them on the path. An apt modern translation of the word tapas would be gumption…initiative, drive, shrewdness. For yogis this means sticking to the practices when life gets tough.
Tapas, like any quality, can be cultivated. Yoga asana is one way to cultivate tapas, and Utkatasana is the pose that most eloquently embodies the nature of tapas. They are both hard and uncomfortable at first, but practice brings ease and a feeling of accomplishment. Unfortunately, the common name for Utkatasana, chair pose, fails to call to mind the astute and forceful feeling of this pose. A direct translation of the Sanskrit into fierce or powerful pose is a much more fitting name.
What To Do
- Stand with the feet together or a comfortable distance apart.
- Inhale and press the feet into the ground to engage the legs.
- With a strong core, exhale and sit the hips back, bending the knees.
- Only sit as low as your breath will allow. If you start to hold your breath, come out of the pose a little.
- Lift the arms up by the ears.
- Make sure to keep the knees parallel as you hold the pose.
- Stay for 3-5 breaths, or as long as 2 minutes.
- Practice with hands at heart center for a gentler version.
- Holding a block between the thighs can help activate the legs and make the foundation of this pose stronger.
- Strengthens the whole body, especially the feet, legs, and shoulders.
- Builds confidence and self-esteem.
- Temporarily increases heart rate.
- Stokes internal fire.