Chair Pose or Utkatasana
or the Chair Pose is a standing yoga posture that is meant to tone the entire body, especially the thigh. It seems easy and comfortable to be sitting in a chair, but the requisites that are required to be followed to get the perfect chair pose is very intricate. The term “Utkasna” has been derived from the Sanskrit word “utkata” which means “powerful or fierce”. This asana has been called by several other names such as “Awkward Chair Pose”,” Thunderbolt Pose” or “Powerful Pose”. Utkasna is particularly useful for increasing the blood circulation of the body as it gets the heart pumping quickly. It is also one of the essential postures in the array of Surya-Namaskar asanas, which are 12 in total.
It is said that practicing Utkatasana helps in boosting immunity in the body and also the endurance of stamina. It is also known to tone the nervous system, leading to better reflexes. It is also said to benefit the digestive organs. It works the muscles of the arms and legs but it also stimulates the diaphragm and heart. The secret to a comfortable stay in Utkatasana is the release of the heads of the thigh bones towards the heels. It can also be used as a meditation pose after practicing it a considerable amount of time.
- Stand straight with your feet slightly apart.
- Stretch your hands to the front with palms facing downwards. It is advisable not to bend your elbows
- Bend the knees and gently push your pelvis down as if you are sitting in an imaginary chair.
- Inhale and raise your arms above your head, perpendicular to the floor.
- Exhale as you bend your knees bringing your thighs as parallel to the floor as they can get. Your knees will project out slightly over your feet and your torso will form approximately a right angle over.
- Draw your shoulder blades into your upper back ribs as you reach your elbows back towards your ears. Do not puff ribcage forward. Draw keeping your lower back long.
- Bring your hips down even lower and lift through your heart. There will be a slight bend in the upper back
- Shift your weight into your heels. Enough weight- approximately 80 % should be transferred into your heels so that you can lift your toes off the mat if you wanted to.
- Keep breath smooth and even. It is okay to back off a bit in the pose until breathing becomes easier.
- Spread your shoulder blades apart. Spin your pinky fingers towards each other so your palms face each other, rotating your arms outward through your thumbs.
- Gaze directly forward. For the deeper pose, tilt your head slightly and gaze at a point between your hands.
- Hold for around one minute. Then inhale as you straighten your legs, lifting through your arms. Exhale and release. Stand straight again.
People with high blood pressure should refrain from lifting the arms and keeping palms holding the hips. Those with osteoporosis or osteoarthritis should not bend their knees too much. Those who are flat-footed should curl their toes.
Benefits of Utkatasana :
- Utkatasana is known to stimulate the abdominal organs and diaphragm, which in turn helps in bring in a sense of emotional stability and calmness in the body. Emotional quotient or EQ provides essential criteria to maintain a balanced life. The control of anxiety and emotions help in keeping sanity and tranquillity of body and mind. Self-awareness and self-worth are very important aspects of life, which need to acknowledged by every individual. So Utkatasana helps in bringing about this tranquillity of life.
- This asana is also known to strengthen the ankles thighs and calves. The growing body pain, which is a common concern among youngsters, utkatasana can be an amazing remedy for the same. It can also be an aid to relaxing the strained muscles which bring in fatigue and restlessness. It is highly advisable for athletes.
- The regular practice of Utkatasana effectively stimulates the heart, diaphragm, and abdominal organs resulting in their optimal functioning and keeping the body healthy. Also, the Utkasana increases the heart rate as it allows the body to breathe properly which pumps extra nutrients to the muscles and increases lactic acid
- The chair pose helps in attaining a perfect body balance, which is equally important as strength, flexibility, and endurance. It is necessary to avoid falls and injuries. So it is necessary to incorporate this asana in your health regime to ensure balance for a perfectly functional life.
Half Moon Pose or Ardha Chandrasana
Ardha Chandrasana or as otherwise known as Half Moon Pose is an asana primarily performed to bring about stability of body and mind. The moon has a rich symbolic significance in Yoga mythology, like other celestial bodies. The sun and the moon represent the two polar energies of the human body. In Sanskrit, ‘Ardha’ means ‘half’ and ‘Chandra’ means glittering or shinning, possessing the brilliancy or hue of light, usually translated as ‘moon’.This pose essentially invites you to tap into both the calm, balancing energy of the moon and the fiery force of the sun. It is about the amalgamation and coming together of different energies, which create a power greater than their parts.
In half-moon pose, two opposing movements are happening at once. The meeting of the two opposite rooting down and extending out renders a sense of stability and power of balance of the torso and spine. It is an excellent exercise for motivation and you can train your mind to stay focused, by regular practice of the half-moon pose. It is also helpful in building a stout physique and help develop strong muscles and limbs, strengthening them evenly. The asana is designed in such a way that it originates with the weight shift that takes the weight of the torso forward over the standing lege and front arm, that initiates steadiness in the body.
Steps to perform Ardha Chandrasana
- Stand with your feet together.
- Jump your legs wide apart and extend your arms to a T position
- Turn your left foot slightly inward and your right foot and leg outward.
- Exhale, press your right hand and right heel firmly into the floor, and straighten the right leg simultaneously lifting the left leg parallel ( or little above parallel) to the floor. Extend actively through the left heel to keep the raised leg strong.
- Rotate your torso to the left whilst keeping the left hip moving slightly forward. Most beginners should keep the left hand on the left hip and the head in a neutral position, gazing forward.
- Bear the body’s weight mostly on the standing leg. Press the lower hand lightly to the floor, using it to intelligently regulate your balance. Lift the inner ankle of the standing foot strongly upward, as if drawing energy from the floor into the standing grain. Press the sacrum and scapulas firmly against the back torso, and lengthen the coccyx toward the raised heel.
- Stay in this position for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Then lower the raised leg to the floor with an exhalation, and return to the original position. Then do the same thing on the other side.
Benefits of Ardha Chandrasana
- This poses is said to remove rigidity in the lower spine and tone the sacroiliac area. Developing the legs by strengthening the knee and the lateral muscle is another important benefit of the same
- Ardha Chandrasana promotes the idea of stability and balance of the body and mind. This, in turn, is said to improve co-ordination between the too and thus help in attaining a state of tranquillity and total self-awareness.
- It is an excellent pose for women who are menstruating and can be taken with the back against the wall. It is also said to be a great pain reliever from menstrual cramps, dysmenorrhea, which seem to a bane during those days of the month. Thus comes the Half Moon Pose at the rescue of the lovely ladies from this distress.
- It helps in reviving the latent energies of the body and be aware of both the halves. The right side represents the Sun( the masculine energy) and the left half represents the moon (the feminine energy). These energies should be balanced by the opposite positive energy to bring balance physically and mentally.
- The Half Moon pose is a robust digestive exercise that helps in proper assimilation and elimination to create a healthy internal system. The asana also tones the core of the abdomen and stomach which makes the spine more mobile to attain the balance of the chakras. It helps in cleansing the body and mind and thereby helps in leading a healthy lifestyle.
So embark on the journey of internal health that radiates outside through the science of YOGA.
Also See: Yoga Poses for flexibility