How to practice: Utkaṭāsana (Chair Pose)

by Delight Yoga

Utkaṭāsana, or Chair Pose, is the third posture in the Primary Series of the Astanga Vinyasa yoga system. The Primary Series is said to be the most demanding because it is the first series you learn as a beginner - and every beginning is hard.  It is called Yoga Chikitsa, meaning Yoga Therapy. It is a series for cleansing and healing the body.

The Primary Series sets the foundation for all of the following postures. If you look superficially, it may seem as if the Primary Series is the easiest of the six series in the Astanga Vinyasa System, but in fact, it is the most demanding. It is here that you start your practice, where you get used to the breath and Vinyasas, and to your daily yoga practice. 
 

Utkaṭāsana Instructions

1. ekam
Inhale, raise arms overhead, palms together
Dhristi: to the middle of the thumb (añguṣṭhamadhye)

2. dve
Exhale, fold forward, hands to ground
Dhristi: to the nose (nāsāgre)

3. trīṇi
Inhale, lift head, lengthen the spine
Dhristi: in the middle of the eyebrows (bhrūmadhye)

4. catvāri
Exhale, hands down, float back, elbows close to chest (Caturāṅga Daṇḍāsana)
Dhristi: to the nose (nāsāgre)

5. pañca
Inhale, roll on tops of feet, open the chest, straighten arms
Dhristi: in the middle of the eyebrows (bhrūmadhye)

6. ṣaṭ
Exhale, roll over the toes, push back, lift hips, straight arms
Dhristi: to the navel (nābicakre)

7. sapta
Inhale, jump forward, bend knees, place feet between the hands, arms up, palms together

- 5 breaths, Utkaṭāsana
  Dhristi: to the middle of the thumb (añguṣṭhamadhye)

8. aṣṭau
Inhale, hands to floor, knees stay bend, lift legs up
Dhristi: to the nose (nāsāgre)

9. nava
Exhale, jump back to Caturāṅga Daṇḍāsana
Dhristi: to the nose (nāsāgre)

10. daśa
Inhale, roll on tops of feet, open the chest, straighten arms
Dhristi: in the middle of the eyebrows (bhrūmadhye)

11. ekādaśa
Exhale, roll over the toes, push back, lift hips, straight arms
Dhristi: to the navel (nābicakre)

12. dvādaśa
Inhale, jump feet between hands, lengthen the spine, lift your head up
Dhristi: in the middle of the eyebrows (bhrūmadhye)

13. trayodaśa
Exhale, head to knees
Dhristi: to the nose (nāsāgre)

- Inhale, stand all the way up, arms on sides, Samasthitiḥ, exhale
  Dhristi : to the nose (nāsāgre)

Utkaṭāsana Benefits

- Strengthens the ankles, thighs, calves and spine

- Stretches shoulders and chest

- Stimulates the abdominal organs, diaphragm and heart

- Reduces fat around the waist

- Reduces flat feet

- Used therapeutically for back and spine problems and rheumatism