Editor’s note: Incorporating at least one yoga pose into your daily routine can work wonders for your overall health and well-being. Yoga is a holistic practice that not only improves physical flexibility and strength but also nurtures mental clarity and emotional balance. Karissa Brandhagen provides these poses weekly for Explore.
Half Chair Pose (Standing Figure 4 pose)
Ardha Utkatasana (arr-duh oot-kuh-TAH-suh-nuh)
Benefits: Improves balance and stability. Strengthens the core, legs, ankles and feet. Stretches the outer hip and glutes while strengthening the hamstrings and quads. Improves focus and concentration stimulating mental clarity and emotional steadiness. Enhances neuromuscular connection, the coordination of your brain and body working in concert with one another.
How to: Begin with the feet hip-width distance apart, toes facing forward, and allow yourself to find steadiness in the soles of the feet. Slowly shift the weight into the right foot, keep a slight bend in the right knee as you gradually draw your left ankle up, placing it above the right knee. Bring prayer hands to heart center as you set the hips down and back, reaching the sits bones towards the back of your mat. Keep the spine tall and lengthened, the crown of the head reaching to the sky, and the chest lifted.
To advance: Try Flying Half Chair Pose by taking the arms out to a “T,” also known as airplane arms.
To modify: Instead of placing the ankle to the knee of the standing leg, find steadiness, root down through the standing sole and lift the foot 1-4 inches off the ground, drawing your knee up toward the ceiling. Alternatively, you can practice against a wall in two ways: either face the wall and use your hands to maintain stability, or position yourself with your back against the wall for added support.
Prior to attempting any new yoga poses or engaging in unfamiliar physical exercises, it is crucial to consult your primary physician. Your well-being and safety are of utmost importance, so listen to your body’s signals and avoid pushing yourself beyond your personal limits.
Karissa Brandhagen and/or the Yakima Herald-Republic cannot be held responsible for any injuries that may occur while practicing yoga poses without the guidance of a trained professional. Seek the expertise of a qualified instructor to ensure proper technique and reduce the risk of injuries. Take care and practice mindfully.
• Karissa Brandhagen’s active journey has spanned a lifetime, encompassing competitive dancing in grade school, professional cheerleading and now as the owner and leader of Renu Hot Yoga studio for the past four years. Through her expertise, she offers accessible ways to embrace movement and foster health and wellness for everyone.