After injuring my knee several months ago, I started doing yoga at least once per week in an attempt to stretch out my IT band, strengthen my core, and improve my posture and balance. I quickly realized that yoga is hard work! Even seemingly simple moves like downward-facing dog take effort. After several breaths, you can really feel the pull in your hamstrings and the ache in your arms from holding the position.
The more I practice yoga, the more I feel its effects, such as increased flexibility (though I still have a long way to go). I’d like to start sharing some of the yoga moves that I’m learning on this blog, both as a way to track my progress and a way for us to practice together. Today I’ll introduce you to a pretty basic pose that I integrated into my practice this morning: Utkatasana (Chair Pose).
Here are the basic instructions (visit the link above for more details, pictures, and a video):
~ Stand with your feet together and put your weight in your heels.
~ Raise your arms above your head as you inhale, and then bend your knees (keeping your arms raised) as you exhale.
~ Try to make your thighs parallel to the floor and keep your chest high. Don’t bend your back when going into this pose!
~ Stay in this pose for several breaths. Return to standing on an exhale.
Although it’s a relatively easy pose, it takes concentration to ground your feet and focus on keeping your spine straight and your shoulders pushed back. As you breath, focus on bringing positive energy in through your fingertips and down your body and on sending negative energy up and out. But the benefits extend beyond encouraging happy thoughts; this is a great workout for the thighs! As Yoga Journal recommends in the link to Chair Pose above, you can even place a yoga block or a book between them and squeeze to work your thighs some more.
What are some of your favorite poses? I’d love to give them a try!