Utkatasana works the legs and glutes and is part of the traditional Surya Namaskar B series. It is also a great pose to practice on its own as a way to develop strength and build heat during your practice.
There are several ways to come into Utkatasana, but for our purposes we will start in Tadasana with the feet and knees together. As you inhale, reach the arms overhead with the palms either together or facing each other shoulder width apart. The shoulder blades should say wide and drawn lightly down the back away from the ears. As you exhale, bend deeply at the ankles, knees, and waist. The gaze can either be straight ahead or up toward the hands (more traditional).
As you drop the hips, don’t let the pelvis tilt forward relative to the torso. Take out any excessive curve in the lower back by tucking the tailbone, keeping the lumbar spine nice and long and the front ribs drawn back. The upper body will tilt forward to keep your weight centered. Generally, the torso will create about a 90 degree angle relative to the thighs. Trying to keep the upper body too upright results in either a more shallow squat than we are aiming for or an excessive lower back arch.
Try and hold for 30 seconds initially, increasing the time (and depth) as you gain strength.
If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you or see you at one of my classes!