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How to Practice Chair Pose For Strength and Power

Updated: Mar 12, 2023

Discover the benefits of chair pose (utkatasana) to cultivate energy and learn four variations to get stronger over time.

Few poses ignite heat and get my heart pumping like chair pose (utkatasana). Chair pose is also referred to as fierce pose, powerful pose, lightning bolt pose or awkward pose — and for good reason. It is a posture that builds strength and stamina by challenging us to “sit” in our discomfort.

What are the benefits of practicing chair pose in yoga?

  • Build heat and energize your body

  • Strengthen your core and arms

  • Engage your back, legs and ankles

  • Build cardiovascular strength

  • Improve balance

  • Increase focus

Whether you are trying chair pose for the first time or looking for tips to expand your practice, this tutorial will guide you through four variations to explore. Make sure you are cleared by a doctor before practicing this pose, especially if you are recovering from any injuries in the knees, ankles, hips or back, have low blood pressure or experience insomnia.

Ways to try chair pose:

You can include any of the variations from the video separately into your yoga practice. Try staying in each variation for 5-10 breaths.

Use a wall for support (similar to a wall sit you might have done in gym class):

  • Stand against a wall, bend your knees and lower down so your thighs move toward being parallel to the ground. Start to hinge your torso forward and lift your arms up so your biceps are by your ears. Hug your ribs in and firm your shoulder blades against your back

Use blocks to engage (you can use blocks while leaning against the wall or without the wall):

  • From a standing position, place one block on the narrowest width between your thighs. This block will help you keep your knees in one line and your inner thighs engaged. Hold another block horizontally between your hands. This will help engage your arms and keep them shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees and sit your hips back, bringing your thighs toward parallel with the ground. Lift your arms parallel to the ground or higher so your biceps are by your ears. Hug your ribs in and engage your core

Try without props:

  • Stand in mountain pose (tadasana). You can stand with your feet hip distance apart or touch them together. Bend your knees and sit your hips back like you are sitting on the edge of an imaginary chair. Think about moving the heads of thigh bones toward your heels so most of your weight is in your heels. Protect your knees by keeping them in one line and making sure they don’t go past your toes. Make space in your lower back by bringing your tailbone toward your pubis. Reach your arms up so your biceps are by the ears. Engage your core, hug your ribs in and firm your shoulder blades against your back. Keep your neck in line with your spine. Most importantly, breathe! For an added challenge, try lifting your toes off the mat

Add in a flow:

  • My favorite way to practice chair pose is in a flow. Sun salutation B (surya namaskar B) includes a chair pose in the beginning and end of the sequence. You can learn how to do sun salutation B in this blog post

If you find yourself out of breath or drenched in sweat after this practice, you are not alone! Notice if your breath catches or if you hold onto tension in areas like your jaw or the space between your eyebrows. Try to soften the areas that don’t assist you with the shape. Remember to listen to your body, take breaks and rest when you need to. Over time, your chair pose will get stronger (and dare I say it, you may start to love the pose). You may even experience a burst of energy that will help you conquer your day.

I’d love to hear about your experience with chair pose. Leave me a comment below and let me know how this posture evolves for you over time. If you found these techniques helpful, share it with your community and subscribe to my YouTube channel for more tutorials.

In fierceness and strength,


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