Yoga Pose of the Week: Parivrtta Utkatasana


Suki Dalury in Parivrtta Utkatasan; photo by Zoe Zimmerman for Sundara Studios 2013

On the mat and off the mat life is constantly presenting us with challenges. One of the great blessings of the yoga practice is that in leaning to ride the wave of the challenge of a particular pose, we find such a capacity for grace translates to life off the mat.

Chair pose is a very difficult posture and is therefore also known as intense pose.  Such an asana starts with difficulty and then becomes even more challenging when adding a twist.  It’s like riding a big wall wave rather than a little one.

Begin standing tall with the inner edges of your feet touching, legs strongly hugging into one another. Exhale to bend into your ankles, knees, and hips to sit into the proverbial chair of intensity. Inhale to stretch your arms up along your ears, exhaling to twist your inner body to the right. The outer body will follow and invite you to place your left elbow upon your right knee and your right hand in prayer upon your left hand in front of your heart. Spread your toes, squeeze your legs into one another and draw your left knee back into alignment with the right. Feel your lungs fill as your draw your waistline more deeply to the right and open your chest and gaze toward the ceiling. Pressing the upper left arm into the right leg can create some dynamic tension through which to twist more deeply. After five to fifteen breaths inhale to unwind to center, still in utkatasana, and exhale to twist to the left.

Not only does such a strong pose enhance ones capacity to withstand the undulations and waves of life’s challenges, it also increases the strength of the lower body as well as the quality of one’s breath.