Instructor: Sarah N.
Sarah has completed an intensive yoga teacher training program in Pune, India at the BKS Iyengar Yoga Institute. She has been inspired to continue practicing yoga for life.

Chair Pose: Step-by-Step Instructions


Chair Pose (Utkatasana) is excellent for building strength in your thighs and stretching out stiff shoulders.

Step by Step Pose Information Benefits Variations

Utkatasana

(Pronounced as "oot-kah-TAHS-anna")

In Sanskrit, utkata means "fierce" or "powerful." Here you build a lot of stamina quickly by sitting on an imaginary chair.

How to do Chair Pose

Step One

Stand up straight in Tadasana. Your feet are together, legs straight, chest lifted, shoulders rolled back and down. Now on an inhalation, raise your arms up straight above the head so that your fingers point toward the ceiling. Keeping your shoulders back, extend up and join your palms together.

Step Two

As you exhale, bend your knees down until the tops of your thighs are parallel to the floor. If you cannot descend this far, then just hold the position when you've bent down as far as you can.

While descending, keep your chest lifted with your arms behind your ears. Although your arms will want to come forward, keep pushing them back and extending them up.

The knees will extend in front of the feet somewhat, and your torso does lean slightly forward. However, the goal is to try to form a right angle between your thighs and torso. Keep your feet flat on the floor with your weight more on your heels.

Step Three

Tuck your shoulder blades firmly into your back to give your arms the support they need to extend up fully in the air above you. Extend your back up all the way from the tailbone through the tops of your fingers. Your tailbone should not curve back; rather, the tailbone elongates and points down toward the floor.

Step Four

Breathe normally. Hold this position for 30 seconds. When you become more proficient in this posture, then you can gradually practice holding it for longer amounts of time.

Inhale as you straighten your knees to come out of the pose. Exhale as you drop your arms back down to your sides in Tadasana once more.

Beginner's Tip:

When you first learn this pose, try it against a wall. Keep pressing your back against the wall as you slide down until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Position your feet so that they are directly underneath your knees. Press your heels down hard into the floor and rest your hands on top of your thighs to make sure your thighs stay level. Use your thigh muscles to keep pushing into the wall. Do not let your back come away from the wall. Straighten your legs and slide back up the wall when you have held it for as long as you can.

Chair Pose Information

Sanskrit Name:

Utkatasana

Pose Level:

Level 1

Contraindications and Cautions:

  • Knee, ankle or foot injuries less than two months old
  • In case of muscle inflammation in the lower back, practice it against a wall as described below.
  • Irregular blood pressure

Modifications and Props:

To help train your thigh muscles to support you more, place a yoga block in between your thighs just above your knees. Squeeze the block tightly with your legs as you bend down into Chair Pose.

Deepen the Pose:

The secret to holding your balance in Chair Pose is to keep your weight on your heels without letting your chest collapse forward. One way to get this feeling is to press your palms together behind your back in Namaskar position as you hold Chair Pose. This way, your hands force your chest to stay lifted and open while you restrain your shoulders from caving forward. You can also hold your elbows behind your back with your hands if you can't press your palms together behind your shoulder blades.

Chair Pose Benefits

  • Tones the muscles in your ankles, calves, thighs and spine
  • Stretches and expands your chest and shoulders
  • Massages the abdominal organs, heart and diaphragm

Chair Pose Variations

Lift yourself up on the balls of your feet while bending your knees. Then sit down with your buttocks on your lifted heels. Stretch your arms forward to balance, keeping your arms parallel to the floor.

Partnering:

As you practice Chair Pose, ask a partner to help press your heels down into the ground using their hands.

Next Pose:

Child's Pose

9 styles | 152 poses

Beginner Yoga Poses

Bharadvaja's Twist Pose
Big Toe Pose
Boat Pose
Bound Angle Pose
Bow Pose
Bridge Pose
Camel Pose
Cat Pose
Chair Pose
Child's Pose
Cobra Pose
Corpse Pose
Cow Pose
Cow Face Pose
Crow Pose
Dolphin Plank Pose
Downward Dog Pose
Eagle Pose
Eight Angle Pose
Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose
Extended Puppy Pose
Extended Side Angle Pose
Firefly Pose
Fish Pose
Garland Pose
Half Frog Pose
Half Lord of the Fishes Pose
Half Moon Pose
Yoga Handstand
Happy Baby Pose
Head To Knee Pose
High Lunge Pose
Legs Up The Wall Pose
Locust Pose
Lotus Pose
Shoulder Pressing Pose
Low Lunge Pose
Monkey Pose
Mountain Pose
Noose Pose
Plank Pose
Plow Pose
Sage Koundinya I Pose
Sage Marichi's Pose
Reclining Bound Angle Pose
Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose
Revolved Triangle Pose
Revolved Head to Knee Pose
Reclining Hero Pose
Scale Pose
Side Reclining Leg Lift Pose
Peacock Pose
Pyramid Pose
Crescent Lunge Pose
Heron Pose
Hero Pose
Feathered Peacock Pose
Staff Pose
Seated Forward Bend Pose
Four Limbed Staff Pose
Revolved Side Angle Pose
Wild Thing Pose
Side Crow Pose
Side Plank Pose
Sphinx Pose
Supported Headstand (Sirsasana)
Tree Pose
Standing Split
Supported Shoulderstand
Standing Half Forward Bend
Triangle Pose
Upward Plank Pose
Upward Facing Two Foot Staff Pose
Wheel Pose
Upward Salute Pose
Upward Facing Dog Pose
Warrior I Pose
Warrior II Pose
Warrior III Pose
Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend
Easy Pose
Gate Pose
Wide Legged Forward Fold
Dancer Pose
One-Legged King Pigeon Pose
One-Legged King Pigeon Pose II
Marichi's Pose
Fire Log Pose
Standing Forward Bend
Pose Dedicated to the Sage Koundinya II

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