Anatomy of a Pose - Laurel Marsh

Laurel Marsh

Laurel Marsh

Chair Pose — Utkatasana (OOT-kuh-TAHS-uh-nuh)


  • Strengthens the ankles, thighs, spine, and arms
  • Opens the chest and shoulders
  • Builds heat in the body
  • Stimulates the heart, diaphragm, and abdominal organs

Key Actions

  • Start in Mountain pose (see April 2017 column) with the big toes touching, heels slightly parted, and palms facing the outer hips  
  • On the inhalation reach the arms forward and up.  Feel the upward rotation of the shoulder blades
  • On the exhalation sit the hips back and down
  • Press into the three corners of each foot while adding a little more weight into the centers of the heels
  • Be sure the knees are in line with the second and third toe of each foot
  • Hug the outer hips and legs in towards the midline and drop the tailbone to avoid overarching the lower back.  If the lower back flattens, instead of dropping the tailbone, spin the inner thighs in and down
  • Lift the sides of the waist and firm the outer arms in
  • Spread the fingers, soften the face and turn the attention to the breath
  • Play with sitting the hips a little further back and down while maintaining these key actions in the body
  • Take five rounds of breath and on the last exhalation press down into the feet to straighten the legs and rest the arms by the sides in Tadasana


  • If bringing the big toes to touch and heels slightly parted does not feet stable, place the feet hips width distance.  Be sure the second and third toes point forward, maintaining neutrality in the feet and legs
  • To help access the actions of the outer hips and legs hugging in toward the midline, place a block the narrowest way in between the thighs
  • If reaching the arms overhead and shoulder width distance is a challenge, play with widening the arms.  Continue to practice the actions of firming the outer arms in