Alignment Tips: Chair Pose

Chair Pose, or Utkatasana in Sanskrit, is a standing yoga posture that tones the entire body, particularly the legs. The Sanskrit name comes from the words “utkata” meaning “powerful” or “fierce” and “asana” meaning “pose” and, make no mistake, Chair Pose can be a fierce posture for your thigh muscles!

Utkatasana is an essential component of a sun salutation series, but it can also be used as a transitional pose or practiced on its own to build strength in the legs and stamina throughout the whole body.

What are the benefits of Chair Pose?

Practicing Chair Pose will strengthen your legs, core, shoulders, and arms all at once. Holding it for extended periods will build stamina, endurance, and mental determination. Few yogis call Chair Pose their favorite, but committing to the work in this posture will reap real and tangible results. 

With consistent practice, Chair Pose will help you build:

  • Flexibility in your shoulders
  • Strength in your legs
  • Stability in your core 

Chair Pose will strengthen your thighs, helping to stabilize your knees. Your ankles will become more limber and stable, and your arms and shoulders will gain flexibility and power. As you reach your arms overhead,  stretching the muscles between your ribs, you will also increase your lung and breathing capacity. The pose can also help improve your posture, and who wouldn’t love a little extra support there?!

How to hold Utkatasana

While relatively simple to execute, Chair Pose is always a challenging posture to perform. However, the simplicity of the posture allows you to focus on your breath as you progressively increase the duration of your hold. 

Step 1
Stand straight and tall with your feet together, or hip­-width apart to modify, and your arms at your sides.

Step 2
Inhale and lift your arms next to your ears, stretching them straight and parallel with wrists and fingers long. Keep your shoulders down and spine neutral.

Step 3
Exhale as you bend your knees, keeping your thighs and knees parallel. Lean your torso forward to create a right angle with the tops of your thighs. Keep your neck and head in line with your torso and arms. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute, increasing as you gain strength.

Looking for more alignment tips in your practice? Grab our Yoga Alignment Program with 19 of the most commonly seen poses laid out with all the cues to help you find your alignment. It’s only $10. Grab it now!

Erin Entlich is a certified yoga instructor, personal trainer, holistic health coach, and writer. She believes doing good starts with feeling good, which is why she loves helping people weave movement, mindfulness, and healthy eating into their daily lives. Find out more at