How to Do Chair Pose (Utkatasana)

Based on the English name, you might think that the chair pose in yoga is as easy as sitting down in your favorite recliner. This pose (utkatasana in Sanskrit) mimics the position of sitting in a chair, but since the chair is missing, you have to rely on the strength of your lower body to keep from falling to the ground.

In fact, the Sanskrit word “utkata” has a lot of meanings, including fierce, powerful, and awkward. (The exact translation of utkatasana is actually “powerful pose.”) And when done correctly, utkatasana chair pose is all of those things combined, especially if it’s held for multiple breaths.

Chair Pose (Utkatasana): Step-by-Step Instructions

Here’s how to do utkatasana with proper form, so you can get all of the benefits from it and progress in your yoga practice.

Set up

  • Stand in mountain pose (tadasana), so your toes are together and your heels are slightly separated.

Getting into the pose

  • On an inhale, raise your arms above your head next to your ears so that your palms are facing one another. Then bend your knees to lower your hips down and back, like you are sitting in a child-sized chair.


  • Keep your arms extended with your shoulders press down and biceps by your ears. Keep your chin slightly tucked and your chest lifted to maintain a straight line through your spine.
  • Bend your knees deeply so that your thighs are parallel to the mat. Put your weight back into your heels, so that you could lift all 10 toes.

Posture Tips for Chair Pose

  • If you have tight shoulders or lats, extending the arms can be difficult. Just reach your arms up as far as is possible.
  • If you glance down, you should be able to see your toes in chair pose. If you can’t, rock your weight back into your heels.
  • Pull your belly button into your spine, which will help take the curve out of your lower back.

How to Make Chair Pose Easier

Woman Holds Easier Variation of Chair Pose | Chair Pose

  • Start out with a wider stance (about hip width) and don’t bend your knees as much.
  • If reaching your arms overhead is difficult, you can always reach straight out in front of you, or bring your hands together in a prayer position (Anjali Mudra) at your chest.

How to Make Chair Pose Harder

revolved chair pose (Parivrtta Utkatasana)

  • Add an upper body twist for revolved chair pose (parivrtta utkatasana).
  • Bend your knees more, so you sit deeper into the pose.
  • As you reach your arms up alongside your ears, touch your palms together and gaze up to the sky as you lift your chest.
  • Hold the pose for multiple breaths.

Chair Pose Benefits

  • Strengthens your calves, hamstrings, quads, glutes, hip flexors, and core.
  • Challenges your balance and stability.
  • Helps increase the range of motion of your shoulder and upper back muscles.