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Benefits of Utkatasana (Chair Pose) and How to Do it By Dr. Himani Bisht

By Dr. Himani Bisht +2 more

Introduction: 

Yoga is getting popular recently as an affordable and convenient means of achieving fitness goals. Vast literature also highlights the importance of yoga in our lives; we can say that people commonly lack proper understanding and knowledge of the subject. We need to put out efforts to establish the applicability of the age-old ancient proven system of yoga to the present times.  

Utkatasana, or Chair pose, is a standing pose. It is a fierce posture, also known as a powerful posture.1 Read along to learn more about utkatasana benefits. 

utkatasana yoga

What is Utkatasana?  

Utkatasana, on being performed, appears as if someone is sitting on an imaginary chair. Thus, it is also known as chair pose yoga. It is identified as a component of medieval hatha yoga. It is a low squatting posture. While doing Utkatasana, your knees should be apart at your hips-width, the knees should be bent and the arms must be stretched above your head, keeping them in line with your ears. It gives strength to the spinal column, thigh, calf, ankle and stretches the thorax region (region between the neck and abdomen) and the shoulder.2 Utkatasana contributes to toning the muscles gently. This pose helps to develop and expand the chest, lift the diaphragm and it also helps to lift the pelvic girdle (bony ring which connects the spinal column to the legs).1 

How to do it? 

To get into utkatasana, you must first stand in tadasana (mountain pose) and then adhere to the following steps: 

  • While in Tadasana, take a deep breath and raise your arms Over head near by ear level & parallel to each other with palms facing inwards to shoulder level in front of your body. 
  • Now bend your knees while breathing out.  
  • Then lower your torso to achieve a half squat pose without bending forward. Keep your thighs parallel to the ground.  
  • Keep maintaining the utkatasana pose for 30 seconds; you can balance in this way while breathing normally.1,3 

Do You Know? 

Let us learn some more exciting facts about utkatasana: 

  • In Sanskrit, chair pose is also known as Utkatasana and it is also sometimes called “awkward chair pose”, “fierce pose,” and “intense pose”. 
  • Utkatasna is included in the Sun Salutation yoga sequence in Vinyasa or Ashtanga yoga. 

Benefits of Utkatasana: 

Like many other yoga asanas, utkatasana may be beneficial to human health as a general exercise and in many ways, as following: 

1. Benefits of Utkatasana for Musculoskeletal Strengthening: 

Liu et al., in their study conducted in 2021 found that utkatasana can be integrated as a part of knee strengthening programs. Further, they observed that utkatsana might be a better alternative for knee osteoarthritis patients since it can minimise the movement of the knee joint. It might also help to strengthen the thigh muscles. Utkatasana was also recommended by some other studies for the health of elderly, as it was observed that squatting could strengthen leg muscles of the legs remarkably. Moreover, this asana may help strengthen and stretch the calf muscles, lift the inner arch of flat feet, and might even reduce issues related to flat feet.4 

2. Benefits of Utkatasana for Improving the Hand-Eye Coordination: 

Mitra et al. did a study in 2022, to study the effect of asanas on the hand-eye coordination of 30-40 years old sedentary women. Results showed a possibility that regular practice of utkatasana with other asanas might have significant positive effect on their hand-eye coordination.5 More studies will be required to prove the exact benefits of these asanas on human health.  

3. Benefits of Utkatasana for Improving Pregnancy Outcomes: 

Karthiga et al. in their study conducted recently in 2022 proposed a module of yoga therapy to be included in the medical management and the treatment of pregnancy-related hypertensive disorders. They also suggested introducing yoga as a supportive intervention during the early stages of pregnancy, particularly for those with high risk of gestational hypertension (high blood pressure during pregnancy). It can be concluded that the integrated yoga practice, including utkatasana, might have potential benefits for managing pregnancies with a high risk of gestational hypertension.6 It is advised that pregnant women should perform these asanas only under the supervision of a yoga expert and after consulting their doctor. 

4. Benefits of Utkatasana for Improving Balance: 

Kanjirathingal et al., in their study conducted in 2021, found that yogasana intervention, including utkatasana, can stimulate the sensory system essential to create a sense of balance and spatial orientation (vestibular system). Thus, it may help generate awareness and stimulate coordination. It may also target the neurons within the body and brain that produce the perception of touch. Utkatasana and other yoga interventions might improve balance performance (static and dynamic) and muscle strength (hips to toes). In patients suffering from diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN), it may also reduce fear of fall.3 

5. Other Benefits of Utkatasana 

Utkatasana might have some other benefits as well, such as: 

  • Utkatasana might help build the stamina of the lower body. 
  • It can help correct the minor deformities in the legs and flat feet. 
  • It can play a role in removing stiffness in the shoulders.1,4 

Yoga practice may help develop the mind and body; however, it is still not an alternative to modern medicine. It would be best if you did not rely on yoga alone to treat any condition. Please consult a qualified doctor who will be able to assess your situation correctly and advise accordingly. Moreover, it is necessary to practice and learn yoga under the supervision of a trained yoga teacher to avoid any injuries.  

If you’re looking to promote a sense of mental freshness, I would recommend giving Utkatasana a try. This yoga posture is renowned for its ability to possibly refresh the brain, providing a rejuvenating effect on the mind.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

Risks of Utkatasana 

Practising yoga can be associated with several risks if performed incorrectly; thus, when practising utkatasana you should be careful and follow the instructions: 

  • Your knees and back may be at risk if the asana is not performed correctly. Keep your knees pointing straight ahead, press the shoulders down and back, and stare at a point in front of you for balance.  
  • The elderly with unstable standing balance should practice standing poses next to a wall or chair to provide lateral stability. 
  • Other risks involved may be torn ligaments, muscle strain, and other serious injuries, which can occur during any exercise.4 
  • During pregnancy and menstruation, Yoga experts should be consulted before doing any asana. 

With the guidance of a qualified and experienced yoga teacher/yoga expert, we can access and analyse the risk factors and continue to practice exercise with precautions.  

Let me tell you about another benefit of Utkatasana. It might have the potential to relieve painful afflictions in the joints of the feet and fingers. By practising this yoga pose, individuals may experience alleviation of discomfort and find relief in the above specified areas.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Conclusion  

Utkatasana, or chair pose, is a powerful yoga pose that may help balance and structural strengthening. It may also have benefits in improving eye-hand coordination and improving pregnancy outcomes. It may also benefit other minor conditions like shoulder stiffness and minor leg and foot deformities. However, this asana, like any yoga, must be performed under proper guidance.  

Also Read: Chair Yoga for Seniors: A Comprehensive Guide to Improved Mobility and Balance

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

1) What are the benefits of chair yoga poses for seniors?  

Utkatasana can benefit senior citizens in multiple ways. When included in a study with a yoga intervention program, it was observed that it may have contributed to developing balance, a sense of awareness and strengthening of muscles in senior citizens that help them to keep upright.4 

2) Why is utkatasana also called fierce pose yoga or powerful posture? 

The name utkatasana is derived from Sanskrit Utkat means Intense/Powerful while Asana means Posture/Pose. Thus, it is also called powerful pose or fierce pose yoga. 

3) Is utkatasana suitable for patients suffering from osteoarthritis? 

Studies indicate that the Chair pose asana or utkatasana should be included in knee strengthening exercise programs. Compared with other standing yoga postures, it may be a more suitable choice for those with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis. This is because it might strengthen the quadriceps and possibly minimise the knee adduction moment (the movement acting on the knee joint).4 

4) What are the general precautions to be followed while performing utkatasana? 

When practising utkatasana, you must follow the steps correctly. Further, you must ensure that your knees are pointing straight ahead, press the shoulders down and back and focus on an opposite point. It is important to perform yoga correctly to avoid injuries.4 

5) Does yogasana intervention including utkatasana affect sedentary women’s hand-eye coordinative ability? 

The studies show that significant yoga asana intervention including utkatasana might significantly affect the hand-eye coordinative ability of younger sedentary women group.5 

References: 

  1. Half yearly Journal of Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga, 2022. Yoga Vijnana – The Science and Art of Yoga. 1(2), pp.1-59. [Internet]. 2021 [cited 27 Sep 2022] Available from: https://yoga.ayush.gov.in/Publications/gallery/JOURNAL/Yoga%20Vijnana%20Vol.%202.pdf  
  1. Anilkumar A, KT A, Sajan S, KA S. Pose Estimated Yoga Monitoring System. Available at SSRN 3882498. 2021 Jul 8. [Internet]. 2021 [cited 27 Sep 2022] Available from:  https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3882498  
  1. Kanjirathingal JP, Mullerpatan RP, Nehete G, Raghuram N. Effect of yogasana intervention on standing balance performance among people with diabetic peripheral neuropathy: A pilot study. International Journal of Yoga. 2021 Jan;14(1):60. [Internet]. 2021 [cited 27 Sep 2022]  Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8023438/  
  1. Liu AM, Chu IH, Lin HT, Liang JM, Hsu HT, Wu WL. Training benefits and injury risks of standing yoga applied in musculoskeletal problems: lower limb biomechanical analysis. International journal of environmental research and public health. 2021 Aug 9;18(16):8402. Available from: https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/18/16/8402  
  1. Mahara, A. and Mitra, D. Effect of asanas on eye-hand coordinative ability of sedentary women. International Journal of Physiology, Nutrition and Physical Education, 2022 7(1), pp.21-23. [Internet]. 2022 [cited 27 Sep 2022] Available from: https://www.journalofsports.com/pdf/2022/vol7issue1/PartA/7-1-8-457.pdf  
  1. Karthiga K, Pal GK, Dasari P, Nanda N, Velkumary S, Chinnakali P, Renugasundari M, Harichandrakumar KT. Effects of yoga on cardiometabolic risks and fetomaternal outcomes are associated with serum nitric oxide in gestational hypertension: a randomized control trial. Scientific Reports. 2022 Jul 12;12(1):1-23. [Internet]. 2022 [cited 27 Sep 2022]  Available from: https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1038/s41598-022-15216-4.pdf  
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