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Blog

Twenty Five Ways of Chair

Danielle Brown

I teach a one hour yoga class. When I started teaching, the thought of filling sixty minutes was concerning. Three years later, I can't believe how fast that time goes! (My teacher, Bernadette Birney, said that would happen.) I don't want to rush students to get it all done. I know that I wouldn't want to leave a yoga class with my head spinning because of rushed transitions and inadequate holds. So, I've been known to ask for a little multi-tasking along the way. I'll often layer further strengthening, stretching or flow. One great resource for this "add-on" effect is utkatasana (otherwise referred to as chair, awkward chair or lightning bolt pose). While toning the quadriceps, strengthening the hip flexors, ankles, calves and back and stretching the chest and shoulders, here are twenty five variations (more like add-ons) to utkatasana. (The vinyasa or flow is utkatasana to one or more of the below back to utkatasana. Repeat. Oh, and I don't know anyone whose favorite pose is utkatasana. It's fiery and well, awkward. So BE KIND. ) Grab a chair, we'll be here awhile. *

1. Lift knee of one leg and hover foot off the ground
2. #1 plus press into standing foot to stand. Lifted knee moves towards chest.
3. #2 plus cross lifted foot over standing leg's thigh and send sits bonds back and down (figure 4)
4. #2 plus grab hold of outside of the lifted food or shin or thigh with the opposite hand and stretch leg toward straight
5. #4 plus send hand on the same side as lifted foot back behind, palm open out. gaze could follow
6. #2 plus send lifted foot back behind as you hinge forward (virabhadrasana III)
7. #6 plus touch hands down on the ground (standing split).
8. #7 plus lift heel of the standing food, weight into the hands, arms straight (hand stand prep)
9. #6 plus cross lifted foot behind standing foot and extend leg long. Keep the bend in standing leg. Lift hand on the bent knee side.
10. place hands behind head, elbows wide. reach one elbow to opposite knee. inhale to come up. exhale to switch sides.
11. hug legs together, knees stay bent and lift heels
12. bend knees to place forearms on thighs (skier). "how we doing?" keep one forearm on thigh, reach hand of opposite arm up in the sky and twist gently open. Keep knees aligned.
13. bend one arm, grab hold of elbow with opposite hand and stretch triceps
14. interlace fingers above head and flip palms up. tick tock side to side
15. interlace fingers behind back and move gently away from low back (if it's ok on your shoulders) to open chest. option to fold forward (uttanasana). move to straighten legs slowly.
16. interlace finders behind back and drop ear to same side shoulder
17. grab hold of one wrist with the opposite hand and stretch up and over to side. press into that's side foot to stand and raise opposite leg out to the side, balancing on one foot
18. bend at the elbow with one arm and turn palm to face you, sweep the opposite arm under and draw palms together (eagle)
19. interlace fingers behind back, inhale lift back up to chair
20. place hands behind head. exhale draw elbows together and gaze down. inhale separate elbows. gaze up. (cat cow)
21. place hands behind head. reach elbows out to the side. keep back of neck long. lower one elbow towards the ground. extend opposite elbow up to the sky.
22. extend arms wide at the side. palms face front. exhale and cross one arm over the other. inhale open arms wide and look up. switch sides crossing opposite arm over arm (yep, cat cow again)
23. #21 with arms straight.
24. Exhale place fingers on the ground/block come up high on toes. inhale rock back to heels and reach arms overhead.
25. #24 without fingers touching ground but reaching back behind when high on toes. "Look ma, no hands" inhale and settle heels back down and reach arms back up.

*I realized after I started writing this post that I could go on and on and on. The only thing remarkable about this post is that I'm still amazed at the variety and options available. Thumbs up to fresh sequencing and multi-tasking and gettin-er-done in a one hour yoga class while transitioning consciously and with patience.