I can honestly say that the yoga classes I teach are challenging. Students sometimes are breathing heavily, struggling with some poses, and definitely sweating during the practice. My intention is not to harm or discourage my students. On the contrary, I am teaching them to believe in themselves. I show them, through the challenging yoga classes, that they have the ability to get through very difficult circumstances. Yes, they may be a little sweaty at the end, but they got through it. They learn they are able to support themselves, live with integrity, develop and practice great strength, and feel calm throughout the entire process.
There is a particular pose that can embrace this experience: Utkatasana. The Sanskirt word literally means powerful or fierce. The nickname given to this posture is Chair Pose because the physical body looks like it's sitting in a chair. While sitting in an actual chair may not produce power and strength, practicing Chair Pose can.
Because of the balancing nature of the pose, the core engagement, the arms lifted over head, lifting your toes, and sitting deeply onto nothing at all can definitely generate confidence, power, strength, and fierceness.
Utkatasana: Chair Pose
Start by standing in Mountain Pose. Be sure to have your feet about hip distance apart with your toes pointing directly forward to form a secure foundation while standing. Inhale to extend your arms into the air. Exhale and sit back and down as if you were sitting into an actual seat. To begin with, there is no need to sit down too deeply. Just bend at the knees and hips to establish the sensation of beginning to to sit down into a chair.
Before going any further, be sure to engage your core. Tilt your pelvis so you can feel you navel draw in toward your spine. Do this action with an exhale. This will help you connect more solidly to your core. It establishes a stronger base and support of self. As you're able, with core engaged, sit back and down a little deeper. Be sure to keep your arms extended over head. (Have your arms extend past your ears.) This is your posture. To make it more demanding, shift your weight more toward your heels so you can lift your toes off the floor. The challenge here is to remain stable, balanced, and calm in the posture. You want to have a full sense of supporting yourself without actual support (like sitting in a chair.) After about 5 breaths, stand up tall to Extended Mountain Pose with an inhale. Exhale to lower your arms down by your side.
The intention behind a pose like this is to remind you that you can rely on your own strength to support yourself in many difficult and challenging situations. It may not be comfortable like a chair, but you'll have the strength, power, and fierceness that the pose declares.