This pose will make you break out in a sweat in a matter of seconds. It will make your quads quake and challenge you to breathe through it. In short, it will make you work. This pose literally translates as "Fierce Pose" (and with good reason), but you probably know it as Chair Pose.
If the words "chair" and "pose" appearing side by side doesn't make your heart beat a little faster, you've obviously never tried it.
Chair Pose challenges your mental and physical toughness. It challenges your discipline and determination.
This pose will strengthen the lower back, abdominals, thighs, glutes, and ankles. Here's what you need to know so you can reap the benefits without risking injury.
This is what your legs should be doing:
Keep your ankles and knees together as you slowly sit back, like you were going to sit on a chair. If you are a beginner or need some help keeping your balance, set your feet hip-width apart.
Bring your legs parallel to one another and allow your knees to hover over your toes as you sink your weight back into your heels. “You know your foundation is safe when you peer over your knees and can see all 10 toes,” explains Nicole Katz, structural yoga therapist and owner of Yoga 216. “The aim is to make sure the center of the knee is tracking over the second toe.” Again, if you are a beginner, keep shifting weight into your heels, and don't sit back as deeply until you've built up the strength to squat lower and keep your knees over your toes.
Many people allow the arches of their feet to collapse when in Chair Pose. To prevent this, lift your toes and distribute a little weight to the outer edges of the feet.
This is what your torso should be doing:
Let your torso lean slightly forward over the thighs while expanding and lifting the chest. Keep your navel drawing up and in. Keep your sitting bones aiming downward to maintain space in the lower spine. Try not to over arch your back.
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To prevent your pelvis from tipping too far forward, Katz suggests that you "imagine your pelvis is a basin of water and all the water is spilling over the front rim of the bowl. Drawing the naval up and in will activate the deep core muscles to lift the rim of the bowl, thereby lengthening the lower spine.”
This is what your arms should be doing:
Reach your arms toward the ceiling while externally rotating them at the shoulder so that the pinky fingers rotate inward, toward each other. Avoid getting a 'turtle neck.' Try to avoid scrunching up your shoulders and neck toward your ears. As you lift your arms, imagine your shoulders sliding down, away from your midline to create more space. Never lift your arms past what is comfortable for you. “Ease in this pose should be sought in the neck and shoulders. When they are soft and long we can find the peace to stay calm, even in the presence of all that effort,” says Katz. Keep your gaze forward and on a specific focus point to help you with your balance. Remember to breathe. Breathe through it and you will be on to the next pose before you know it.
You will know you've got it mastered when you have a perfect balance between ease and effort. It isn't easy, don't be afraid to keep trying. Part of the beauty of yoga is the journey!
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