Good morning Yogis! We are continuing our cycle through the Yoga Sutras with the third of the Niyamas – Tapas or Discipline. Since we are in the middle of a September Asana Challenge, we are featuring a new Asana that represents each of the Yoga Sutras! Utkatasana (oot-kah-TA-sa-nuh) or Chair pose is my choice to represent Tapas. This is a challenging pose, and a great workout when held for an extended time. The literal translation from Sanskrit is Powerful or Intense Pose. If you hold this Asana for a full minute, I am sure you will feel why this pose was named “Intense”!
We are in the middle of a daily Asana practice challenge for September! Please see our Asana Styles page for links to YouTube videos for various Yoga Styles. For Tapas Day today, I recommend a vigorous Vinyasa class.
I usually practice with the Yoga Studio App rather than streaming services, so I can download my favorite classes and use in areas without WiFi or phone signal. Today I am doing a new Hip Hop Vinyasa.
Each Tapas day, we check in on our progress with the daily habits we have set for ourselves. It typically takes 30 Days to set a new habit (which is why I love these 30 Day Challenges!) so if you have kept up on your daily habit you have likely successfully formed a new habit! Congratulations, keep it up.. perhaps it is time to add a new daily habit to your routine!! If you have not kept up, examine why you did not, and consider if you want to keep this goal or set a new one. Evaluate the reminders and/or rewards you set for yourself, and perhaps modify these systems to ensure your success! Yoga is a practice, and successfully changing our habits is about consistency, so we will keep checking in on our goals on Tapas Days.
As mentioned we are in a daily Asana Challenge, which I have kept up with by wearing workout clothes to bed and practicing first thing in the morning. I also have a daily habit of practicing French or Spanish with Duolingo… I am pretty pleased with myself to have a 29 Day Streak, about to hit 30 tomorrow! I have missed fewer than 20 days in all of 2020, but there is just something very rewarding about the increasing number of days in a row. And, lastly, this daily Asana Challenge has helped put me on the right path to meet another goal – hitting all three rings on my Apple Watch.
Today’s Daily Yogi Practice is to try Chair Pose for Tapas Day! This pose is common in all styles and levels of Yoga. It is a great alternative to backbends to stretch thighs and back, and is a fantastic workout for legs and glutes when held for 30-60 seconds!
Utkatasana – Chair or Powerful Pose
Start standing in Tadasana / Mountain Pose. Separate your feet to about hip-distance apart.
Inhale and lift your arms above your head, palms facing in, and sit your hips back as if you are sitting back in a chair. Keep your shoulders down and back straight, and try to get your thighs as close to parallel to the ground as possible. It is more important to have a straight back than to “sit” lower into your chair. Look up between your hands if comfortable.
Take deep breaths into your belly (perhaps try Vilona Pranayama) and hold this pose for at least 3-5 full breaths. I recommend playing with weight in your feet a bit through this pose – generally you should keep all weight in your heels. Perhaps try lifting your toes slightly from the mat! Or, shift your weight into the balls of your feet, and try lifting your heels slightly from the mat, preparing for more advanced variations of this pose like Awkward Pose (a Hot Yoga favorite) and Drinking Bird Pose. Or, try placing a block between your knees for an even more challenging lower-body workout!
To come out of Utkatasana, inhale and straighten your knees back to Tadasana / Mountain Pose, then exhale and lower your arms – you may want to come all the way forward into Uttanasana / Standing Forward Fold to counter this pose after holding for a long time.
PS If you are comfortable with variations of these poses, please tag us with your pictures on Instagram!
Please comment to share your experience! Have you tried Utkatasana or the more advanced variations before? Always remember, be kind!