As part of her year-long series, Annie Carpenter continues her column “Basics” in the December 2011 issue of Yoga Journal with Chair Pose (Utkatasana). While simple in appearance, Chair Pose is one that demands more than meets the eye: flexible shoulders, a stable core, and strong legs. We are reminded of the fundamentals of the pose in its root word, utkata, meaning “fierce” or “powerful,” although Annie tells us it is just as much to keep a cool mind. With deep breathing and a release of tension you will find a stronger sense of focus.
Focus is certainly central to the success of Chair Pose, as it requires quite a bit of it. All at once you must lift your chest, engage your core, lengthen your lower back, and keep weight in your heels. Annie gracefully reminds us with her patient perspective, that the point of Chair Pose is “[learning] to handle many actions all at the same time for what feels like way too long.”
With Annie’s helpful advice there are means of preparation before conquering the full pose. Before adding the arms you can first focus on mastering the right angle of your knees, channeling particular concentration toward shifting your weight onto your heels. Standing tall in Mountain Pose (Tadasana), which was the focus of Annie’s first blog of the “Basics” series, will keep your arms extended straight and your back from overarching. When you’re ready, Annie tells us to unite the whole of the pose by bringing awareness to the torso.
“The pose is teaching you,” Annie says, “its most important lesson and key concept in yoga: steady practice over time is better than occasional, intense spurts.” She includes three modifications by using the wall as a prop: powering up your lower body with squats, and aligning your upper body with chest and shoulder openers.
With a dedicated daily regimen, Annie reminds us of the deep satisfaction that results from perseverance and determination in this challenging pose. The Sanskrit word for dedicated practice, abhyasa, reminds us that focusing on the practice itself rather than achieving the goal results in effortlessness. ”Consistency in yoga yields deep, lasting results.”