Awkward Pose (Utkatasana)

Everything I ever read about Awkward Pose focuses on the benefits to your legs.  And yes, it will make your legs strong.  But if you want those patented “yoga arms” this is the pose for you (assuming you don’t cheat).

The pose has three parts – however, two things remain the same throughout: your feet should be six inches apart (heels behind toes) and your arms should be out in front of you.  Not relaxed – they should remain flexed and straight at the elbows.  You do not bring your feet back together until after all three poses are complete, nor are you meant to bring your arms down.  But no one seems to adhere to this part.  I see people relaxing their arms all the time.  And I understand why – my arms are killing me at the end of the second set.  But isn’t that the point?  We are here to transform our bodies and minds.  If it was easy, it wouldn’t exact change.  I have been doing yoga long enough now that these poses aren’t TOO hard on my legs.  They aren’t easy but I am usually able to get into the full expression of the posture and hold it for the allotted time.  Sometimes my legs shake, naturally.  But my arms – my word my arms!  I am literally willing myself to keep them out straight through the two sets.  And when people compliment my arms, I know Awkward Pose is to thank.

Back to the sequence – in the first part, you slowly lower your hops down so your thighs are parallel to the floor.  Butt back as far as it can go, arms stretching out trying to touch the wall or mirror in front of you.  The one balances the other.  In the second part you go up as high as possible on your toes and hold before lowering down.  It is important here to focus not only on your toes but on keeping your back straight.  And with the last position you lift up off your toes just a little bit, bring your knees together and lower as slowly as possible (usually to the count of ten) with the full expression of the pose asking that your butt is an inch off your heels.

The benefits are numerous – strengthening and firming your thighs, calves and hips.  It strengthens the spine and helps with core strength as well as improving balance and focus.  And if you keep your arms where they are meant to be you will be more than happy to show them off come summer.


Please excuse my bad form in this photo.  My friend thought it would be cool for me to balance on that stool.  As she was doing me a favor by taking the photo, I thought the least I could do was amuse her by doing it in this strange way.  And the picture is pretty rad.


7 thoughts on “Awkward Pose (Utkatasana)

    1. Utkatasana technically breaks down to “utkata” = powerful, fierce and “asana” = pose. I think Bikram is saying that the pose is awkward, and our teachers are reciting his words in the dialogue. But technically it’s just Chair Pose done in three variations. This reply is awkward. Anyway… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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