Utkatasana ("fierce" or "chair" pose) is a great pose for strengthening your core, quads and glutes (aka your butt) and as part of the Sun Salutations series it is a foundational yoga pose you will come across again and again. The idea is to actually pretend to sit back in an imaginary chair - so it comes with an in-built visualisation to help you out!
So... how to:
Starting in Mountain pose, inhale and lift your arms above your head, lengthening your spine.
Exhale and bend your knees, moving your body into a 45° angle. Make sure your back stays straight and that there is not a groove in the small of your lower back with your butt sticking out! Tuck your pelvis and engage your abs by bringing your naval towards your spine to assist with getting your back in a nice straight line. Let your upper body sink into pelvis and try and bring your thighs so they are parallel to the floor (this may take time!)
DC is loving this pose!
Keep your weight back into your heels - try wiggling your toes to make sure you are shifting the weight to the back of your feet, and breathe deeply here for a few rounds. Inhale - return to Tadasana.
*Note: you can have your feet together or hip width apart, depending on which feels more stable for you :)
There you go... Fierce Pose!
Now here are some series you can add on from your Fierce Pose...
"Please lord, let the next pose be easier"
From your fierce pose, inhale and lengthen the spine, then on the exhale bring your hands together and hook your left elbow on your right knee (or in the general vicinity of the knee, DC STYLE!)
Press your hands together and use this action to roll your shoulders open and gaze up to the ceiling. Breathe deeply and twist further into the pose on each exhale. After a few rounds of breath, return to fierce pose and repeat on the other side.
Sadie Nardini demonstrates this pose as one of "Three Yoga Moves to Boost Immunity" here.
Breath of Fire:
Starting in Fierce Pose take a big inhale and open your chest as much as possible, opening your arms wide behind you and bringing your shoulder blades together at the back.
Hug it out DC!
Then, on the exhale, cross your arms over yourself and round through the shoulder blades and back, bringing your arms in as if to give yourself a nice big hug (HIPPIE ALERT) Feel your shoulder blades really opening up at and pulling apart as you gaze into your chest.
Inhale, open the arms back out, and continue alternating between the two with your breath. Make sure to make the breath as long as possible, and exhale all the air on that exhale (/hug)
Repeat ten times, or less if your thighs really are beginning to burn! If this is too much come out of fierce pose slightly. If you want the chest opening action but not the thigh burn you can even do this from a kneeling position.
Sadie Nardini demonstrates this "Calorie Torching" (woo!) move in this video - skip to 7:11.
As an aspiring hippie it would also be remiss of me not to point out that this exercise is excellent for opening your heart chakra... oh yeah I used the "C WORD" on this blog! Suck it up, bishes! Read more about why you would want to do this here. Or don't :)
One more... if anyone is still reading now...
Fierce Lion Pose:
I like this one as it combines my love of dynamic poses and making overdramatic yoga noises!
DC releases all the tension of being a world renowned Broga model
From Fierce Pose inhale fully and then make a huge sighing exhale, swooping your arms down and behind you in a huge "whoosh" (technical yoga term) Make some noise - a giant "HA" sound is best here. If your neighbors don't think you are a weirdo you are doing this wrong! The idea is to get all the tension out from your body, so if anything is pissing you off now is your chance to HA that all out. Rise on the inhale, then repeat. I'd say do this at least six times, more if you're having a bad day :)
Again Sadie Nardini demonstrates this excellently here. Fierce Lion Pose kicks in at about the 1:40 mark. Complete with "HA"s.
Hope you enjoyed these immunity boosting, calorie torching, chakra opening, tension releasing moves!