Goddess pose or Utkatakonasana, is a power pose which offers total body activation. A balancing pose that you will connect with from the pressing through your feet to the inhales out the top of your head.
Goddess Pose works the thighs, glutes, hips, and chest. Before attempting this pose, it can be helpful to warm up the areas most responsible for the integrity of the pose.
Poses such as Seated or Standing Wide Angle:
With Seated wide angle, it can be helpful to focus on keeping your feet either pointed or flexed, depending on if you want to feel this stretch more in the top or bottom or your legs. Also maintaining length through your spine is important for both standing and seated wide angle pose. Use your inhales to lift you upwards and the exhales to hinge from the hips and sink, don’t be afraid to continuously micro-adjust with your breathing, inhale tall and exhale hinge, to allow yourself more adjustment opportunities.
Another helpful prep-pose is Butterfly, either seated or reclined:
You may want to add props in to help be able to relax and release more in either of these versions of butterfly. When seated, adding blocks, rolled blanked or bolsters under the knees can help support the pose. For more adding weighted pillows close to your hips can give additional challenge and opening, work with your yoga instructor when first attempting to add additional weights.
In reclined butterfly you can used a bolster under your back for more opening through the chest area and/or under your knees for more support.
For more you can do a bound butterfly with a strap around your legs to keep them more stabilized, ask your yoga teacher how to get started with binding work if you’d like to add it into your practice.
For additional chest opening in reclined butterfly you can place your arms in field goal position, to help open out through the thoracic spine, also to mirror the arm positioning in goddess pose.
When you’re ready to begin goddess pose:
You can begin in mountain and take a big step out wide, or if you’re warming up from wide angle pose just check your feet positioning from your wide stance.
Your feet should be wider than your hips and the feet can be turned out at a 45degree angle or be pointing towards the opposite ends of your mat (right foot points right, left foot points left) the key to feet positioning is to know your knees (and hips) your feet should point in the same direction as your knees, so make adjustments that work with your body.
*If you find yourself in a class setting and get into goddess and notice your knees/feet/whatever it is needs adjusting, come out of the pose and then adjust, and then you can get right back into it. Do this as many times as needed to get into the pose the way your body needs it, the bonus being you do a lot of extra squats!*
When you feel like you’ve gotten your set stance in your feet and legs, check in with your upper body, ears over the shoulders, shoulders over the hips, inhaling to create length through your spine, lifting yourself up out the top of your head. Hands can start and stay at your hips, or arms extend outwards to begin with, hands reaching towards the opposite walls.
When you’re ready to come down, inhale tall and then as you exhale, sink into your hips and bring your hands over your elbows (field goal) For extra you can add in the Gyan Mudra on each hand for extra activation.
You‘re pressing through your feet, feeling the legs and glutes, slight pelvic tuck to keep your core in, and the exhales help squeeze in through your pelvic floor, chest is lifted and open, shoulders are down, arms are open and active, chin is parallel to the floor and breathing is calm and steady. Try to hold this pose for about 5 breaths or for more movement oriented practice, inhale to lift up and exhale to sink and take small pauses in between each breath/movement. Your inhales raise you up and your exhales sink you down.
For modifications, you can sit in a chair and focus on getting the foundations in your feet and legs without the balancing aspect, and focus on the arm work and chest opening. You can also do a reclining Goddess and use a wall as your “floor” to help take the load out of your upper body. Laying down would also give additional activation to your inner thighs.
You can also keep your hands on your hips or create a lot of variations to this pose with arm work, the legs stay the sturdy foundation while the upper body explores range of motion.
Release your own inner goddess and find your own personal power through Utkatakonasana.