Chair Pose in Oncology Yoga

Highlights: Strengthening, Energizing, Grounding.

Benefits: Increases leg, hip and core strength; promotes bone health; improves balance; increases cardiovascular and lymphatic circulation. 

How To:
  • Begin in Stand Tall Pose. Place your hands on your hips.
  • Looking forward, Inhale: Expand your chest and draw your shoulder blades towards each other on your back.
  • Exhale: Bend your knees and hips as if beginning to sit in a chair. Keep your heels and toes on the floor. Keep your spine long and chest open.
  • While in the pose, continue to breathe in and out. As you inhale, expand your chest, and as you exhale, engage the lower abdominal muscles and diaphragm.
  • You can allow the hips to drop a bit lower and bend the knees a bit deeper to increase the effort of the pose.
  • Always keep your chest lifted and your hips above the level of the knees.
  • To come out of the pose, inhale as you extend your legs and hips to return to Stand Tall Pose. Exhale and relax your arms at your sides.

Tips for Chair Pose:

  • Your feet should be placed slightly apart and parallel to each other, with your toes facing forward.
  • Do not allow the knees to knock together.
  • Do not lift your toes or your heels.
  • Keep your neck neutral and in line with your spine.
  • Focus on the horizon line. Don’t allow your head or focus to drop downward, nor look upward to the sky. 

OPTIONAL: While in Chair Pose, inhale to bring your arms overhead, with your palms facing each other. Exhale as you keep your arms raised. Maintain this position by repeating the breath pattern of inhale to expand, and exhale to maintain, or sit deeper.  Only do so if you can still keep your gaze forward, spine long, chest open and lifted.

Contraindications/Precautions: Those with limited arm range of motion can keep their hands on the hips, or bring the arms into Cactus Pose. Follow guidelines for using props to provide balance and stability support. Transition in and out of this pose slowly if you are prone to dizziness. Avoid practicing this pose if you feel sharp pain in the hips or knees.

Using Props:  As needed for balance, have a chair (s) to the side or stand next to a wall.

Make it Dynamic:

  • From Stand Tall Pose, Inhale: raise your arms overhead.
  • Exhale: move into Chair Pose as you maintain your arms overhead.
  • Inhale: maintain this pose as you expand the chest wide and upward.
  • Exhale: bend your knees a little deeper, engage abdominal muscles and diaphragm.
  • Inhale: press downward into your feet as you extend your knees and hips to Stand Tall.
  • Exhale: relax your arms down by your sides.  
  • Complete this breath and movement cycle three times.

OPTIONAL: This Dynamic sequence can also be done while keeping the hands on the hips, or by gently pressing the hands into the tops of the thighs while in Chair Pose.

Added Benefits: Chair pose is central to the yoga4cancer methodology because with the support of props, it can be used to safely move through standing sequences, and when moving to and from the floor.

If you wish to make the pose more challenging, spend more time in the pose by repeating the breath and movement patterns, or bend your knees more deeply and sit lower into the “chair”. (However, hips should never go below the level of the knees, and soles of the feet should stay planted on the floor). 

Sanskrit name: Utkatasana: Powerful Pose, from Utkata meaning Powerful, fierce or extreme.

Related Posts