I am always learning from my students. I am always amazed and surprised by my own discoveries of a Posture that I have practiced for years and suddenly I am introduced to again as though it was the very first time. I have finally grown into it in a completely new way.
Chair Pose (Utkatasana) is one of those “simple” asanas that I have recently been teaching with a whole new discovery of it’s magic. When I was younger, I never quite got this pose. But now, thanks to one of my students, I understand why it is also translated as Fierce or Powerful Pose.
In a recent class teaching my lovely seniors I was intent on answering the need of one of my students. A sweet English woman of 82 years young. She came to yoga a year after she lost her husband and soul mate. After caring for him for a year before he died she realized she had forgotten herself. The first week in my Yoga class, She needed help to get up from the floor.
I began to break down what it takes to sit down and get up which we take for granted until we can’t.
I started to teach chair pose with a new awareness of how it is literally mimicking sitting down onto an imaginary chair. It has all of the elements needed to remind the body of what needs to be strengthened and what needs to have more flexibility.
First there is balance and how to use the feet as a force for stability and alignment. Utkatasana addresses the flexibility of the Achilles, calves, and feet, ultimately bringing the spring back into our step.
With great awareness of rooting the feet, the quadriceps become strong and great power is achieved in the legs. The hips need to flex in order to sit back with careful ease. while the spine extends to balance the action of sitting back and down.
I have a few key points that make this pose even more interesting. There is a major energy point midway between the navel and pubic bone called Dan-Tien. it functions by giving us a sense of stability and balance. It is also a source of power for physical energy, sexual vitality, and inner power. From this point you shift the weight into your heals and from the same point your stomach muscles lift with your spine upwards and back. Moving back from the power of Dan-Tien will position the knees so they are in safe alignment.
The arms lift and you look up towards your hands.
I always have thought of this as a very sublime posture.
It is also translated as Fierce or Powerful Pose, so in its simplicity the name of the Posture describes it on more then one level
Oh, and by the way, my very sweet lady is now able to get up and down from the floor without assistance!
Viva La Chair Pose!!!