Asana of the Week: Utkatasana

Utkatasana (Fierce Posture) is a simple but strong standing asana that works the glutes, thighs, and back while stretching the achilles tendons and soleus muscles of the lower legs.

Stand with your feet together.  Bend your knees, extend your arms overhead, and lift your gaze to the thumbs.  Drop your tail and scoop the belly up and in to support your back.  Ground into your heels as you sit your hips and use the inhales to reach up out of your pelvis by lengthening the torso.  Feel the opposing actions of the posture as you breathe fully into the upper chest.

To refine the posture, roll your triceps in with an external rotation of the arms and press your palms together to engage the chest and sides.  Alternatively, for those with very tight shoulders, keep the hands shoulder-width apart or even open the arms to a Y-shape to help relax the shoulders down while maintaining the upward energetic expression of the pose.  Stay for 5-10 breaths as you continue to find your way into a deeper sit and a higher reach.


  1. I'm confused about the jumpback from utkatasana that's in the primary series. Some teachers (Kino) teach it as a tucked handstand (with knees really tucked close to the chest), but in Sharath's primary series video he is doing lolasana with bent arms (the hips are level with the ground; they don't come up). Can you clarify and maybe provide a demo of the correct exit from utkatasana?

  2. Hi Anon,

    It's true that there are two interpretations of the Utkatasana exit floating around out there. I had always done it the way you say Kino teaches (the half handstand) until training with Swenson. He and Shelley insist that the correct method, per contemporary Mysore, is with bent arms and hips low. It's more of an arm balance than a handstand.

    I had made a video of the exits from Utkatasana and Virabhadrasana a month or so ago, but I presented the straight arm variation of both exits in that video, so I'd be happy to make post another of the "correct" method, with bent arms. Give me a week or so.

  3. Mmmmm, I love this pose. It used to be a nemesis pose for me, but now I love the feeling of the power that is channelled through this asana.

    I am back on the blog circuit after a long absence - just wanted to stop by and say hi!

    1. Hey, stranger! Thanks for stopping by. Glad to have you back!

  4. Such a powerful pose. Thanks for sharing more information on this asana.