It happens to all of us. We’re in a class, happily practicing along, and then it happens: chair pose (utkatasana). And then the teacher is making us hold it for what seems to be an eternity. At that point, many thoughts come to mind. Mine tend to sound like this: “Whyyyyyyyyyyy?” or “My quaaaaaaaaaaaads!” or “I can’t hold it any longer, this really hurts” or my ever so favorite “_________ (fill in your instructor’s name here), just wait till the class is over….” I could go on and on here. My brain loves to comment during chair pose.

But the moment I realize that yes, my thighs are indeed on fire, but for some reason I’m still alive and breathing, I am able to relax more into the pose and focus on my brain, because I have to admit that’s my true challenge here, not my quads. My mind presents me with challenges my body could never match – anyone else ever feel this way?
During chair pose, my brain will tell me “I can’t”, but then I talk back and look here, I can! Wow, I can!
(note: if you ever feel knee pain, a pinch somewhere, or you truly find it absolutely unmanageable, do come out – yoga is not about torture – really -, but rather about learning about ourselves)

At least for me, chair pose means control over my inner critic, if just for a few breaths. Consider it practicing for off-the-mat situations such as an exam, a difficult project or conversation, etc. And I guess that’s what yoga is all about. We practice on the mat in a controlled environment, so when we leave class or our mat at home, we’ve learned a new tidbit we may apply in our day to day activities.

So next time you find yourself in chair pose, think positive thoughts about your teacher and follow your mind around for a while. You may discover something new.

Happy practicing and see you around the studio!