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Chair Pose | Utkatasana

Chair Pose | Utkatasana

About the Pose

utkata: awkward, mighty; asana: posture

Chair Pose holds tremendous value when practiced at the Tapas Point because it heats things up quickly because of the large muscle groups in the legs and back that must work to keep the body from falling down. And we get all that work with minimal risk of injury. This is one of those rare poses that can be difficult and safe for almost everybody in a group.

There is also a lot to be learned here. Working to simultaneously increase shoulder abduction without shoulder flexion; without adding lumbar extension is a priceless skill that is a required step in approaching almost anything with end-range shoulder flexion, especially backbends and inversions with shoulder flexion.

Asana Tech Specs

Overall Tapas Ratings

STHIRASUKHASVADHYAYA

Sthira / Strength: 3 of 5

unyielding, firm, hard, solid, compact, strong, fixed, immovable, motionless, still, calm, not wavering or tottering, steady, durable, constant, steadfast, resolute, persevering


Sukha / Range of Motion: 1 of 5

yielding, ease, good space, a perfectly round axle hole

Svadhyaya / Knowledge: 1 of 5

study of the self


Practicing the Pose

Base Position

Base Position

  • Feet together and parallel.
  • Align the 2nd toe directly in front of the center of the front of the ankle.
  • For most people, when the balls of the feet are touching, and the feet are parallel, the heels will not touch.

1. Pre-Alignment: Stability Before Movement

Pre-Alignment

Mountain Pose | Tadasana

Align and Stabilize These Things

To find your Tapas Point, these things must not change position as you come into the pose.

  • Straight elbows
  • Actively straight legs with no hip flexion
  • Spine completely neutral in all three planes
  • Arms actively reaching as long as possible without shoulder flexion or extension
  • Floor of pelvis lifts as sides of waist draw in to lengthen spine

2. Moving to the Tapas Point

The Tapas Point

The Tapas Point for this pose is that point where one has bent the knees as far as the torso can stay fairly upright; and the arms have abducted at the shoulder as far as possible, or to touching palms together, without elbow flexion, or lumbar extension.

The Vinyasa

  • Turn the palms to face outward.
  • Begin to bend the knees as you reach completely straight arms out to the sides and up, lengthening from the breastbone to the pinkies and from the space between the shoulder blades through the thumbs.
  • Make the biggest circle you possibly can with your arms. With every degree of arc that you add, try to reach the arms further from the center points of the front and back of the torso.
  • Bend the knees only as far as the weight remains balanced between the fronts and backs of the feet. Do not let the weight drop into the toes.
  • Stop before the low back arches or the elbows bend.
  • If the palms touch, look up.

3. Working at the Tapas Point

Chair Pose | Utkatasana

Work Like This

  • Lift inner arches and ankles as you release the inner thighs toward the floor.
  • Make the tailbone heavy and lean back to maintain a neutral low back with its natural curve.
  • Lift sides of ribs, outer shoulder blades and arms as you draw the inner shoulder blades down and away from the neck.
  • Draw the sides of the waist in toward the midline and lift from the pelvic floor through the breastbone without a lower back bend.
  • Sink the weight of the pelvis into the heels as you use the shoulder blades to rib connection to lift the ribcage off of the pelvis. Reach the arms up and drop the hips down.
  • If hands touch (with straight elbows and neutral lumbar), look up at the thumbs without hinging cervical spine. Then develop thoracic extension without lumbar extension.

4. Moving from the Tapas Point

Mountain Pose | TadasanaThe Vinyasa

  • Press down through the heels to straighten the legs.
  • As you straighten the legs, continue to propel the crown of the head upwards by drawing the sides of the waist in and up as you make an even bigger circle with the arms.
  • Reaching as far as possible from the centers of the front and back torso, take the arms out to the side and back down to the starting point.
Vertebral Column

Lumbar Vertebrae / Lower Back

  • Coronal Plane: Neutral
    Sthira: 1, Sukha: 1, Svadhyaya: 1
  • Sagittal Plane: Neutral
    Sthira: 2, Sukha: 1, Svadhyaya: 2
  • Transverse Plane: Neutral
    Sthira: 1, Sukha: 1, Svadhyaya: 1

Thoracic Vertebrae / Upper Back

  • Coronal Plane: Neutral
    Sthira: 1, Sukha: 1, Svadhyaya: 1
  • Sagittal Plane: Extension
    Sthira: 3, Sukha: 3, Svadhyaya: 3
  • Transverse Plane: Neutral
    Sthira: 1, Sukha: 1, Svadhyaya: 1

Cervical Vertebrae / Neck

  • Coronal Plane: Neutral
    Sthira: 1, Sukha: 1, Svadhyaya: 1
  • Sagittal Plane: Extension
    Sthira: 1, Sukha: 1, Svadhyaya: 2
  • Transverse Plane: Neutral
    Sthira: 1, Sukha: 1, Svadhyaya: 1
Upper Appendicular Skeleton

Scapulothoracic Joint / Shoulder blade

Multiple Planes: Upward Rotation
Sthira: 1, Sukha: 1, Svadhyaya: 1

Glenohumeral Joint / Shoulder Joint

  • Coronal Plane: Abduction
    Sthira: 1, Sukha: 1, Svadhyaya: 1
  • Sagittal Plane: Flexion
    Sthira: 1, Sukha: 1, Svadhyaya: 1
  • Transverse Plane: Neutral
    Sthira: 1, Sukha: 1, Svadhyaya: 2

Humeroulnar Joint / Elbow

  • Coronal Plane: Not applicable.
    The humeroulnar joint does not normally move in the coronal plane.
  • Sagittal Plane: Extension
    Sthira: 1, Sukha: 1, Svadhyaya: 2
  • Transverse Plane: Not applicable.
    The humeroulnar joint does not normally move in the transverse plane.

Proximal + Distal Radioulnar Joints / Forearm

  • Coronal Plane: Not applicable.
    The humeroulnar joint does not normally move in the coronal plane.
  • Sagittal Plane: Not applicable.
    The humeroulnar joint does not normally move in the coronal plane.
  • Transverse Plane: Pronation
    Sthira: 1, Sukha: 1, Svadhyaya: 1

Wrist Area (Multiple Joints)

  • Coronal Plane: Not Applicable
    The wrist area rarely moves, in asana, in the coronal plane.
  • Sagittal Plane: Neutral
    Sthira: 1, Sukha: 1, Svadhyaya: 1
  • Transverse Plane: Not Applicable
    The wrist area does not normally move in the transverse plane, except for forearm rotation initiated at the distal radioulnar joint (the elbow).

Fingers (Multiple Joints)

  • Coronal Plane: Adduction
    Sthira: 1, Sukha: 1, Svadhyaya: 1
  • Sagittal Plane: Extension
    Sthira: 1, Sukha: 1, Svadhyaya: 1
  • Transverse Plane: Not Applicable
    The fingers do not normally move in the transverse plane.
Lower Appendicular Skeleton

Acetabulofemoral Joint / Hip

  • Coronal Plane: Neutral
    Sthira: 1, Sukha: 1, Svadhyaya: 1
  • Sagittal Plane: Flexion
    Sthira: 1, Sukha: 1, Svadhyaya: 2
  • Transverse Plane: Neutral
    Sthira: 1, Sukha: 1, Svadhyaya: 2

Tibiofemoral Joint / Knee

  • Coronal Plane: Not Applicable
    The tibiofemoral joint does not normally move in the coronal plane
  • Sagittal Plane: Flexion
    Sthira: 2, Sukha: 2, Svadhyaya: 1
  • Transverse Plane: Neutral
    Sthira: 1, Sukha: 1, Svadhyaya: 1

The Talocrural Joint / Ankle

  • Coronal Plane: Not Applicable
    The talocrural joint does not move substantially, in asana, in the coronal plane.
  • Sagittal Plane: Dorsiflexion
    Sthira: 1, Sukha: 2, Svadhyaya: 1
  • Transverse Plane: Not Applicable
    The talocrural joint does not move substantially, in asana, in the coronal plane

Foot (Multiple Joints)

  • Coronal Plane: Not Applicable
    The foot does not move substantially, in asana, in the coronal plane.
  • Sagittal Plane: Not Applicable
    The foot does not move substantially, in asana, in the sagittal plane.
  • Transverse Plane: Neutral
    Sthira: 1, Sukha: 1, Svadhyaya: 2

 

One Response to Chair Pose | Utkatasana

  1. Dorene August 30, 2016 at 8:19 pm #

    This is beyond wonderful. Thank you!

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