Not for feint hearts

Caution, anyone who has heart problems risks over-straining the heart in this pose and should avoid it.

This asana is often referred to as the chair pose because it resembles the action of sitting. However utkatasana as well as working the legs, also works all the internal structures of the torso and pushes the heart to work more strongly. There are several levels to this exercise, the first is with the feet apart and parallel to each other, the knees bend and the hips drop back but unlike many descriptions, the idea is to hold the arms and torso as upright as possible.

As one sinks into the pose, one's weight will ideally remain consistent as when standing in tadasana. The hips sink back and down near to knee height propelling the knees forwards slightly. The eventual aim of the posture is to have the line of balance extending from the centre of balance between the feet, through the middle thighs, up through the torso and arms which become as close to vertical as possible.

In this right image, we can see a very good interpretation and over time the hips may come down slightly, the shoulders may pull more slightly back and down allowing the arms to become more vertical which would also intensify the opening of the inner spine and torso.


  • Stand in Tadasana with the feet hip width part
  • extend the arms above the head
  • flex the knees while retaining the balance in the feet and trying not to lean forwards too much
  • relax your toes
  • hold for two or three breaths breathing softly
  • stand back into tadasana and repeat

This is the Basic pose which looks so simple yet it can really take your breath away. Therefore if you stand up from this pose feeling dizzy or short of breath, Kneel on the floor and lean forwards perhaps resting your arms and head on the seat of a chair to keep your back flat. Breathe softly and deeply until you've recovered.

Make Utkatasana part of a routine

Utkatasana works as a complementary pose with uttanasana. You can go from tadasana to utkatasana but instead of standing back in tadasana, fold forwards keeping the arms and torso extended.

Then place the hands beside the feet and fit the hips straightening your legs as in the right video.  To come back up, flex the knees, sinking the hips, then extend the arms and torso before lifting. See video.

This helps people to get their thighs more parallel to the floor and at this stage the body is also parallel to the floor.

utkatasana4With a twist

Drop down into utkatasana as above except that you are keeping the feet and knees together, then lengthen out of the torso as you bring the arm to the outside of the knee.utkatasana5

Having the palms together in prayer position like this gives a good balance to the pose and the lower arm acts as a lever to deepen the twist.

Challenging balace

From tadasana, keeping the feet apart, raise the heels as you raise the arms and keep your heels lifted as you sink down into utkatasana.

To take this further, try coming down into a full squat while staying up on tip toes. This changes the nature of the post and it's actually easier as an exercise although the balance aspect is far more challenging.

To work toward this pose as illustrated to the right, try standing facing the wall and lightly rest your fingertips against it. Then lift up onto tiptoes and drop down using the wall for balance.

Images from the public domain.




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