It’s our September Posture of the Month and a beloved stop on the Core26 standing series express. The Sanskrit is Utkatasana, where ‘Utkat’ literally translates to “powerful or fierce.” Will you enter into and hold this posture differently now that you know that?
Because it is a very fierce and powerful pose. Meant to warm up the legs and align the lower body for the deep stretches to come, it requires precise alignment and considerable strength in its deepest expression.
Those new to this pose or practice will feel awkward, it’s true. With time, that feeling will fade and the once uncomfortable pose becomes familiar. Remember that drinking out of a cup was once awkward for you, too. So was walking, driving a car, reading an e-book. We can take the time in Awkward Pose to really feel how changing up our routine or expectations of how things ‘should feel’ can be challenging. In yoga and in our lives, we have the power to choose progress and do so with mindfulness around the new experience.
If you’re a longtime Core26 fan and very comfortable in this pose, you might use this month to scrub your old Awkward ways and look at this posture with fresh eyes. Pay attention to the cues during your classes and make adjustments instead of going by rote. We’ve all let our body just do its thing and relied on muscle memory in a class. Some of these habits are the result of particular attention and remain crucial to maintaining proper form. But others, the result of taking the easy route, may be bad habits that snuck in over time.
At the very least, by listening with a beginner’s mind while in Awkward pose this month, you’ll open yourself up to the opportunity for useful information to enter into your expression of these poses.
Important cues for each phase of Awkward:
It’s paramount to keep the feet parallel and at hip width. This allows for practitioners to receive the full benefits of the pose in their feet and ankles, like fresh blood flow to those joints in addition to increased blood circulation.
Keep the arms strong and steady, this opposition is what will allow your hips to drop lower. Try to imagine energy reaching out of your fingers straight to the front of the room and then drop your hips an inch.
Keep tension in the arms and core and release it everywhere else.
Press into the big toe and balls of your feet, pushing into the ground to maintain your balance.
Continue to hold a straight spine and keep tension in the arms, dropping back into your seat and finding your eyes in the mirror.
Think ‘heels up, heels forward.’
Keep heels lifted just slightly off the ground, only enough to draw your knees to touch.
Float down until your hips are just above the heels and keep your knees together and pointed down. If you dropped a ball on your lap, it should roll forward to the floor.
Rise up just as slowly as you sank down. These last ten seconds can be the most difficult part of the entire series. You can do it, though, because you’re fierce and powerful