Imagine spending a whole day at Disney World, standing in line, walking throughout the park, and feeling our beautiful summer heat. At the end of the day, all you want to do is get home and sit in your comfiest chair. You can ease and cool the body down all while relaxing. In yoga, chair pose is the opposite. Chair pose, or utkatasana, is a pose that strengthens the body and builds heat. The pose is often held for five breaths, but after a mere two breaths, the heat is felt in the large muscle groups.
In the Yoga Sutras, the word tapas translates to heat. This “heat” means discipline and right action. Utkatasana is a posture where you feel the literal heat, but staying in the posture also allows you to practice tapas. Tapas is the willingness to do the work. It means developing discipline, enthusiasm and a burning desire to learn. Anything you want to achieve requires a strong sense of tapas, and chair pose is the posture that helps you feel this heat and discipline.
- Stand in tadasana, or mountain pose.
- As you inhale, simultaneously lift your arms over your head while bending your knees.
- While exhaling, guide the navel toward the spine and deepen the “sitting posture.”
- Shift your weight between the toes and the heels and find the space where you are balanced.
- Maintain a gentle lift in the arms, trying to bring the biceps toward the ears while guiding the tailbone down.
- Stay in the posture for five breaths.
- Release the posture on an inhale by returning to tadasana.