Chair pose — or Utkatasana (OOT-kat-AAS-ana ) in Sanskrit — is a challenging leg-strengthening posture that builds intensity and heat in the body as it brings all parts of your body together into a cohesive and powerful whole. Utkatasana is a great pose to do after completing other standing postures, in preparation for seated and reclined postures. It gets its name from the Sanskrit words, utkat, meaning intense or powerful, and asana, meaning pose. That is why it is also known as Fierce Pose. Other names for chair pose include awkward pose, thunderbolt pose, and powerful pose.
Level of difficulty: Intermediate
This pose looks easy and straightforward; yet, when you try it, you’ll find it demands a great deal of stability in the core and strength in the legs as well as flexibility in the shoulders.
- Stand up straight with your feet together or hip-width apart and parallel to each other on the yoga mat. Feel grounded with your weight evenly distributed on both your feet. Engage your core and leg muscles, feel strength in your whole body.
- As you inhale, stretch your arms straight out in front of you with your palms facing down, or you can raise your arms over your head straight. Your shoulder blades should be drawn back and down.
- As you exhale, bend your knees deeply, and sink your pelvis back and toward the ground as though you are sitting down in an imaginary chair. Keep your thighs parallel to the floor as much as possible.
- Keep your knees over your toes, with the weight of your body on your feet. Make sure the knees don’t go further than your toes.
- Do your best to remain as comfortable and calm as possible while maintaining the posture. You may experience mild heating sensations in your leg muscles.
- Inhale deeply to lengthen the spine, and sink your tailbone further down on every exhale.
- Hold the posture for 30 to 60 seconds.
- To come out of the posture, straighten your knees on inhalation and slowly bring your arms down as you exhale or gently sit all the way down on the mat.
Tip from a Sri Sri Yoga expert: Smile throughout the entire practice of this yoga posture! It will help you hold the pose for longer. This standing pose will help you cultivate happiness and resilience in challenging situations.
Benefits of this standing yoga posture
- Lengthens the spine and opens the chest, improves breathing
- Strengthens the hips, thigh muscles, and abdominal muscles, as well as all of the joints in the lower body, stabilizes your knees and ankles
- Stimulates the diaphragm, heart, and abdominal organs
- Tones the back muscles and other muscles along the torso, including core muscles
- Balances the body, and brings determination and willpower to the mind
Chair pose precautions
If you have any of the following conditions, please avoid doing chair pose until the condition has improved or you are given approval by your healthcare provider.
- Chronic knee pain or arthritis of the knee
- Sprained ankle
- Knee ligament damage
- Shoulder injury
- Low blood pressure
- Lower back pain
Modifications and variations
To Increase the challenge, lower your hips as near to the ground as possible while maintaining most of your body weight on your heels. You can also practice this against the wall support. Resting your back fully on the wall and thighs parallel to the floor.
Preparatory poses and follow-up poses
- Mountain Pose | Preparatory and Follow-Up
- Sun Salutation | Preparatory
- Downward-Facing Dog | Preparatory
- Eagle Pose | Follow-Up
- Standing Forward Bend | Follow-Up
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While learning and practicing yoga can result in improved health, know that it is not a substitute for medical treatment. In the case of a medical condition, practice yoga after consulting a doctor.
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