Eka Pada Utkatasana (Half Chair Pose): Steps, Benefits and Contraindications

Eka Pada Utkatasana (Half Chair Pose) - Fitzabout

Eka Pada Utkatasana, also known as Half Chair Pose or Ardha Utkatasana, stretches the hamstrings, quadriceps and gluteus muscles while strengthens the legs, core, ankles and foot.

Expert believes that regular practicing of Standing Figure Four Pose tones the legs, core muscles, and nervous system. The pose improves the mobility of the ankle, the function of the circulatory, respiratory, and metabolic system. The Whooping Crane Pose also calms the mind, relieve stress, improve the focus and concentration levels.

Information

Known as:Eka Pada Utkatasana, Half Chair Pose, One Legged Chair Pose, Ardha Utkatasana, Standing Pigeon Pose, Whooping Crane Pose, Standing Figure Four Pose
Sanskrit name:एक पाद उत्कटासन
IAST:Eka Pāda Utkaṭāsana
Pronunciation:eh-kuh pah-dah Oot-kah-TAHS-anah
Level:Intermediate
Type:Standing, balance, hip-opener
Focus:Lower body, hips, core
Total time:30 to 60 seconds
Drishti:Forward
Chakra:Svadisthana Chakra, Muladhara Chakra
Indications:Circulatory, respiratory, and metabolic system, hormonal functions, legs, core muscles, nervous system
Counterposes:Virasana (Hero Pose), Natarajasana (Dancers Pose), Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose), Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold Pose), Padahastasana (Gorilla Pose), Utthan Pristhanasana (Runners Lunge Pose)
Preparatory poses:Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-facing Dog Pose), Tadasana (Mountain Pose), Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose), Utkatasana (Chair Pose), Anjenayasana (Crescent Lunge Pose)
Follow-up poses:Parivrtta Utkatasana (Revolved Chair Pose), Garudasana (Eagle Pose), Eka pada Koundinyasana I (One-Footed Pose Dedicated to the Sage Koundinya I), Parsva Bakasana (Revolved Crow Pose), Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes pose), Malasana (Garland Pose)
Contraindications:Hips, knees, spinal, or ankle injuries

Meaning + Origin

Eka Pada Utkatasana is derived from the Sanskrit name, which is made up of two words – Eka + Pada + Utkata + Asana:

  1. Eka” = “once or one”
  2. Pada” = “foot or leg”
  3. Utkata” = “fierce”
  4. Asana” = “pose or posture or seat”
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Benefits of Eka Pada Utkatasana (Standing Figure Four Pose)

The physical and mental benefits of Eka Pada Utkatasana (Half Chair Pose) are listed below:

  1. Physical Benefits:
    • Strengthens the legs, core, ankles, and foot
    • Stretches the hamstrings, quadriceps, gluteal muscles
    • Opens the hips
    • Tones the legs, core muscles, and nervous system
    • Enhances the level of consciousness and awareness, mood
    • Improves the mobility of the ankle, body’s metabolic and hormonal functions
    • Improves the flexibility of the hips, knees, and ankles
    • Relieves the tension in the neck and shoulders areas
    • Prevent the long-term injury of neck
    • Stimulates and improve the function of the circulatory, respiratory, and metabolic system
  2. Mental Benefits:
    • Clams the mind
    • Improves focus and concentration levels
    • Develops willpower
    • Relieves stress

Eka Pada Utkatasana (Ardha Utkatasana) Practice Guides

Eka Pada Utkatasana (Half Chair Pose) Steps - Fitzabout
image: instagram/Gerda Imhof

Spreading awareness throughout the body, focus on the breath, not just your leg or glute pain. Establish a stable connection through feet on the floor: Root down, and lift your gaze without falling forward. Hold the Anjali Mudra (chest prayer) elevated so that awareness passes from the base of your spine (Muladhara) from Anahata to your crown.

Step-by-Step instructions to Eka Pada Utkatasana (Half Chair Pose)

  • Begin with Tadasana (Mountain Pose) and then move to Chair Pose (Utkatasana).
  • Keep both feet on the floor and take several breaths here. Make sure the thighs are low and the weight is back in the heels.
  • Bring the hands to the heart of Anjali Mudra. Feel the four corners of the left foot on the floor as you begin to peel the right foot off the floor.
  • Keep the left knee bent while crossing the right ankle to rest on the left thigh just above the knee.
  • Strongly flex the right leg. If you look down, you will see a triangular shape made of legs.
  • Stay in this position for 30 to 60 seconds. For balance postures, it is useful to find a place to look at the floor in front of you.
  • If you want to go further, start lowering the chest until the hand (still in prayer position) is resting on your right calf. If it feels okay, you can continue to lean forward until the fingers touch the floor. Bend or straighten the right leg, depending on which feels better.
  • If you’re leaning forward, come out the way you came in, slowly returning to an upright position.
  • Drop your right foot on the floor and take a few breaths in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) before doing the pose on the other leg.
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Beginners

  • If you are a beginner having trouble maintaining balance, do this yoga pose against a wall. Face the wall, and place a hand on it to maintain balance.
  • You can also face away, and use a wall to support the back.
  • If you want a deeper stretch, lower the chest until the arm rests on the right thigh.
  • If you feel comfortable, continue to lean forward until the fingers touch the floor.

Tips

To get the most out of the pose and reduce the chance of injury, follow these tips:

  • To avoid straining the hips, make sure to keep a straight line between the hips and the spine, and don’t arch or twist the back too much. Keep the abs tight throughout the asana and pull the navel inwards.
  • Knees should not bend beyond your ankle, as this can cause injury to the anterior cruciate ligament.
  • While doing Eka Pada Utkatasana, keep the shoulders loose and down so that they do not rise towards the ears. Keep the shoulders relaxed, and don’t over-engage them.

Precautions and contraindications

Precautions and contraindications that you must keep in mind while practicing Eka Pada Utkatasana (Whooping Crane Pose), which are explained below:

1. Injury and surgery

Avoid this yoga pose in case of ankle, spinal, knee, or hip injury. In addition, anyone with a recent history of surgery in these areas should wait for full recovery and attempt it only after consulting their physicians.

People who have low blood pressure can practice this yoga pose against a wall.

Also, a person suffering from osteoporosis or osteoarthritis should not bend their knees too much.

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2. Lack of body-breathing awareness

Standing Figure Four Pose is almost impossible to do if there is a lack of awareness of the body and breath.

Firstly, the balancing pose naturally requires the focus to be on the various muscles of the body. Most importantly, if the mind drifts into a stream of thoughts, be it past or future, the posture may collapse, and it becomes very challenging to hold. So the advice to be mentally present and to maintain your awareness first on the body and then on the breath.

Consistent practice of poses and breathing exercises (pranayama) such as Shavasana can help you improve the awareness of your breath, which can indirectly help you practice such yogic balance.

3. Physical strength and weak body

Balance can be difficult for a beginner or someone with a weak core and legs, let alone maintaining the pose for five or more breaths. This modified version can come in handy as a prop along a wall or chair; The back can be placed against the wall. Alternatively, you can place your hands on the back of a wall or chair for balance. People who have flat feet can try to bend their toes and balance the body in this pose.

Individuals who have weakness in the knee or knee pain may be advised not to sit too far. Instead, focus on your alignment and on lengthening your spine. Over time, you can flex more once you’ve gained sufficient muscle strength and stamina.

Additionally, engage your core (pelvic muscles slightly compressed and abdominal muscles pulled in) while trying to move into Ardha Utkatasana.

4. Pregnant women

This yoga pose is not recommended for pregnant women as it can put a lot of pressure on the lower abdomen and pelvis, which can cause a lot of discomfort in your womb.

5. Kid

If you are a yoga teacher/instructor teaching this to your kids, please make sure they are not made to hold the pose for long periods of time as their bones and muscles are in the developmental stage, and so not a good idea to straining them.

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