Yoga is the perfect opportunity to be curious about who you are.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Position of the Week: Utkatasana (Chair Pose)

Benefits: This pose will strengthen your trunk and lower body.  It will stretch our your shoulders, as well as open up your chest.  It is great for improving your balance and increase your stamina.

When I was a teenager, I was a volleyball player.  Yes, before discovering yoga I dabbled in team sports, and I loved it.  I played all through high school and it still remains one of my fondest memories growing up.  We had such a wonderful coach, Mrs. H- she would work us to the bone.  We did so many drills and practices, and though we may have complained at times, in the end it molded us into better players, and brought us closer together as a team.  Now, you may be wondering why I'm going down memory lane like this, and what does it have to do with Chair Pose?  Well, one of the exercises she made us do will forever be etched in my mind.  We thought it was cruel and unusual punishment at the time, but hey, we were teenagers, what did we know?  We would stand up with our backs against the wall, and be told to bend down as though we were sitting on a chair.  Of course, there was no chair beneath us for support.  Right away we could feel the burn rushing through our legs and buttocks.  Then, the feeling worsened when we were handed our prop: a medecine ball.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with medecine balls, they are approximately 14 inches and seem to weigh a ton (to the arms of young girls, anyways).  We then had to hold the medecine ball with our arms stretched out straight in front of us.  I remember so hard trying to breathe through what I considered to be excrutiating pain, as the sweat literally poured down my face.  Some of the girls would complain about their make-up running, and I would think to myself  "Who wears make-up at a 7:00am volleyball practice?"  Anyways, when we were told to release, it was as though our entire body was going to float up to the ceiling.  We couldn't feel a thing!

When I was first instructed to go into Chair Pose by my fabulous teacher, this memory that had been packaged in the back of my mind immediately surfaced.  I could see Mrs. H and medecine balls flashing through my eyes.  But this time, there's not even a wall.  We just have to pretend that we're sitting on an invisible chair, all the while trying to keep our knees slightly back so we can still see our toes, and not round our backs.  I literally felt fear drown upon me, with my repressed memories not making the situation any better.  But to my surprise, I absolutely loved the pose, and it wasn't half as difficult as our volleyball torture...uhhh I mean training.  The feeling of bodily lightness is still accompanied with your body once you release.  When you straighten your legs after having them bent for a certain amount of time, it is as though you are detached from your legs, but still feeling completely attached to yourself at the same time.  The mere fact that this is at all possible is just so rejuvenating.

So next time you're having a dinner party and are short a chair, just pull up your invisible one and have a seat.

Lady Lotus


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