Chair Pose (also known as Awkward Pose or Fierce Pose)
- Begin by standing in mountain pose (tadasana) with hands in prayer.
- Breathe in and reach the arms overhead. Either keep the arms parallel, palms facing inward, or press the palms together.
- Breathe out and bend the knees deeply so that it looks like you’re sitting on a chair. Try to bring the thighs to be parallel to the floor. Press your knees together and keep them facing straight forward – don’t allow them to fall out to the sides.
- Tuck your tailbone under (this protects your spine).
- Balance your weight evenly over your feet. You should be able to lift and flex your toes – if you’re pressing all your weight into your toes, redistribute!
- Tuck the chin slightly; roll the shoulders down the back; keep the spine straight (don’t hunch!). Engage abdominal muscles to help support you in the pose.
- Keep your breath steady and even! Bend your knees a little deeper and stretch the arms a little farther.
- To come out of the pose, breathe in and straighten the legs, rising up. Breathe out and bring the hands down to prayer in front of the heart.
Chair pose builds heat in the body and works and strengthens the legs, especially the thighs, as well as the extended arms. Chair pose can improve balance and is also good for the feet.
Contraindications include headache, insomnia, and low blood pressure. Those with knee problems should take care to keep knees aligned properly in this pose to avoid injury.
My Experience in Chair Pose:
Chair is one of my least favorite poses to do. My thigh muscles always burn and it’s very uncomfortable to stay in the pose. In addition to the burning muscles, the pose also makes my ankles hurt. I almost always have these experiences of discomfort, even when I practice the pose regularly, which I find discouraging – it’s nicer when I can see myself improving, even if it’s just a little bit at a time. With chair pose, I often feel defeated before I even begin.
Of course, this pose is awkward to do and it feels awkward to hold. With so many things to remember in the pose, I find it difficult to relax or find any ease in the pose – it’s all work. I also worry that I’m missing something and not doing the pose correctly. In hatha yoga class, I’ll look around and it always seems as though everyone else is bending deeper than I am, and then I feel embarrassed.
I need to remember that it doesn’t matter how anyone else does the pose. Looking at other can inspire me to push myself further, which is good, but it shouldn’t make me feel badly about myself. If I can only bend a little bit that day, that’s okay. Also, I should keep in mind that I am tall, and, practically speaking, someone shorter is going to look as though they’re bending deeper in the pose, since the shorter person already has a head start, so to speak. If I’m looking at the tops of my classmates’ heads in chair pose, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the whole class does the pose better than I do. We all have different bodies and it doesn’t do any good to compare my chair pose with anyone else’s. What matters is staying focused on my own experience of the pose and practicing tapas to stay with the pose, continually working to improve.