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Your Body in Chair Pose

Yoga anatomy expert Leslie Kaminoff describes the action and muscle engagement that occurs during this challenging full-body posture.

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Yoga Anatomy Expert

Chair pose is a symmetrical standing pose, in which your knees are bent, and your weight is distributed evenly in your feet. Your spine is lifted, and your arms are extended overhead. As suggested by its name, the pose is a challenging one, as it engages your full body, particularly your leg muscles and spinal extensors. With practice, the challenge is to bring your thighs parallel with the ground and your back upright—as if seated in a chair.

Well-distributed muscle and joint action is needed in this pose. If you feel the intensity of this pose collecting in just a few places, this indicates the need for a deeper connection to your breath—making the breathing long and smooth will create support for the pose.

Your knees in this position are in flexion, so the musculature on both sides of your leg will need to be quite active in resisting the downward pull of gravity. Ensure that your weight is evenly distributed in both feet so you can find a clear downward pathway for your body’s weight, which will open an upward pathway into your body for the support of the earth.

Gravity, rather than muscles working against each other, should be the main source of resistance in the pose, making this an interesting asana in which to explore a balance between effort and release.

This article has been adapted from Leslie Kaminoff’s book Yoga Anatomy, an illustrated guide to the underlying structures and principles of the movements in yoga. Learn more at



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