Months before arriving to Maui I dreamt of flying above Pacific in Utkatasana while sitting on a wooden chair… Here I am.
10 reasons to choose this chair:
1. Ankle dorsiflexion strengthens feet and ankles against ankle sprains. Distribute weight evenly between inner & outter heel, ball of the foot & base of pinky. Allow your toes to spread and breathe.
2. Once you ground with the stance, reach your arms & entire body tall into the sky. This action channels your energy upward. Lift your heart with each inhale, but not the chin. Keep neck and entire spine stretched long, tail bone into earth & crown of the head into sky.
3. Pull your hips back and sit into them, shifting your center of mass (slightly below and deep to the belly button) back & down. You will land into your hips, the gluteus maximus & hamstrings, which are often laminated by absurd amount of sitting modern people do. Now, your hip extensors are loaded. Knees stay unburdened & behind the toes.
4. Keep reaching upward as you are settling in. Gather energy around the spine, your energetic & musculoskeletal antenna, by giving your midline a squeeze: big toes touch, knees press, inner thighs connect, shoulder blades retract, pelvic floor lifts (Mula Bandha) & navel kisses the spine (Udiyana Bandha). Now you are working the core of your being, projecting force from center of the body throughout the limbs & beyond.
5. While reaching for the light skyward, rotate arms laterally, root shoulders into the sockets of glenoid fossa, deep into the torso. Send your right shoulder toward the back of left hip & the left shoulder toward the back of the right hip. Thus the shoulder girdle is being reinforced, rotator cuffs are grounding arms’ reach, while the scapulae are retracting & depressing, giving the heart a push to lift a little more. If shoulder flexion is bothersome, try your arms wider, or gather them at heart’s center.
6. Aside from biomechanically beneficial stimuli, on the subtle level, beyond the mind & body, utkatasana, as any asana done with integrity, opens up energy channels & psychic centers. Have a sit with yourself right where you are, as you are & witness self. Once you organize your breath & body, the energy will flow & expand. Be patient, it will take some practice to make your chair comfortable. One day it might become a throne. Equal parts of effort and ease suspend you in the middle way of balance. Patanjali’s yoga sutra 2.46 refers to this balance as sthira sukham asanam, steady & easeful posture.
7. Breathe! Stay for 5-10 breaths. Ujjayi (Victorious in Sanskrit) breath through the nose is another perfect blend of energizing and relaxing qualities. Long & smooth inhales and exhales with gentle constriction in the back of the throat produce an oceanic sound. Inhales invite attention, vitality, create space, while exhales release nonessentials, such as distractions of the mind & tensions in the body. Ujjayi just loud enough for your inner ear to hear, will tone & soothe your nervous system, occupying the mind with a simple task of breathing consciously. Divine engineering!
8. Personally, I find practice of yoga in nature especially powerful. Expanding with the horizon, breathing with waves, reaching into the light with the trees, admiring centers of flowers, feeling the sun’s power… Nature nourishes and bathes my being with its generous beauty. Through my body, I am in union with the Universe and it informs my heart & mind.
9. This asana has infinite benefits and no costs. It’s potent and convenient, can be performed by a child and an elder.
10. I invite you to share your utkatasana with me. Have fun with it & I am happy to answer any questions you may have. Namaste.