Alignment and Teaching Cues for Chair Pose, Utkatasana
Chair pose, Utkatasana in Sanskrit, is a popular pose in vinyasa and ashtanga yoga classes. Utkatasana or chair pose builds strength and stability in the legs and core, builds heat in the body and requires focus and balance. Here I will provide teaching cues and alignment tips for chair pose that will benefit both yoga teachers and students alike.
Yoga Cues and Alignment Tips for Teaching Chair Pose
I like to teach asanas from the ground up. Just as you would build a house starting with the foundation it’s important to build a steady posture from its base.
- Stand with feet together
- Big toes touch
- Heels slightly apart
- Knees point over the second toes
- Weight is distributed back toward the heels
- Sit the hips low
- Lengthen the spine by drawing lower abdomen in and up
- Arms reach overhead with palms facing one another
- Shoulders soften away from ears
- Gaze straight ahead- healthiest for the neck
- Tips if chair pose creates too much tension and stress for your student’s shoulders suggest they take the hands slightly wider than the shoulders or “goal post” the arms.
Variations of Chair Pose
- Revolved (ie. with a twist): many arm variations available: hands at heart center in prayer/anjali mudra or arms spread wide are two of my favorites
- Heels lifted. Press up high on the balls of your feet and lift your heels.
- With hands bound behind hips. This option opens the shoulders and chest.
- Feet hip width and a block between the inner thighs. This version of utkatasana helps engage and strengthen the inner thighs (adductors).
- Bring the palms of the hands to touch overhead.
Benefits of Chair Pose
- Builds strength and stability in lower body, including: hip flexors, quads, ankles and calves.
- Tones the muscles of the legs
- Strengthens the core muscles of the trunk
- Opens the chest and shoulders
- Stimulates the heart, diaphragm, and abdominal organs
- Creates heat