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Figure Four Pose (Eka Pada Utkatasana)

Figure Four Pose, also known as Eka Pada Utkatasana, is a unique yoga pose that combines elements of balance, strength, and flexibility. This pose resembles the figure four shape when one leg is crossed over the other while the body is in a semi-squat position. It challenges the practitioner’s balance and strengthens the legs and core, making it a valuable addition to any yoga routine.

Figure Four Pose (Eka Pada Utkatasana)

The name "Eka Pada Utkatasana" comes from Sanskrit:

  • Eka: One

  • Pada: Foot or Leg

  • Utkata: Powerful or Fierce

  • Asana: Pose

Thus, Eka Pada Utkatasana translates to "One-Legged Fierce Pose," reflecting the strength and balance required to perform it.


Eka Pada Utkatasana is pronounced as:

  • Eka: Ay-kah

  • Pada: Pah-dah

  • Utkatasana: Oot-kah-tah-sah-nah


Anatomy of Figure Four Pose (Eka Pada Utkatasana)

Understanding the anatomy involved in Figure Four Pose can help you approach this pose with proper alignment and awareness.


Muscle Groups

  1. Legs: The quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus maximus, and hip flexors are all engaged to maintain balance and support the body.

  2. Core: The rectus abdominis, obliques, and transverse abdominis help stabilize the body.

  3. Lower Back: The erector spinae and other lower back muscles support the spine and maintain an upright posture.


Joint Involvement

  • Hips: Require flexibility and strength to cross one leg over the other.

  • Knees: Bear weight and maintain stability.

  • Ankles: Provide balance and support for the standing leg.


Figure Four Pose (Eka Pada Utkatasana): Steps / Instructions

  1. Start in Tadasana (Mountain Pose): Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, arms relaxed by your sides.

  2. Shift Weight to One Leg: Transfer your weight onto your left leg, grounding through the foot.

  3. Cross the Ankle: Lift your right foot and cross your right ankle over your left thigh, just above the knee. Your right knee should point out to the side.

  4. Bend the Standing Leg: Slowly bend your left knee, lowering your hips into a squat position. Your crossed right leg should create a figure four shape.

  5. Engage Your Core: Keep your core engaged to maintain balance and stability.

  6. Hands to Heart or Ground: Bring your hands to your heart in Anjali Mudra (prayer position), or place them on the ground or a block for added support.

  7. Hold the Pose: Maintain the position for 5-10 breaths, focusing on your balance and breathing steadily.

  8. Switch Sides: Gently release and return to Tadasana before repeating the pose on the other side.

Figure Four Pose (Eka Pada Utkatasana)


When to do it

Eka Pada Utkatasana can be practiced at any time during your yoga session. It works well as a warm-up to activate the legs and hips or as a part of a balancing sequence. It can also be incorporated into the middle of your practice to challenge your balance and strength.


Preparatory Poses

Preparing your body for the Figure Four Pose involves warming up the muscles and joints that will be engaged. Effective preparatory poses include:

  • Utkatasana (Chair Pose): Builds strength in the legs and core.

  • Vrksasana (Tree Pose): Enhances balance and stability.

  • Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose): Opens the hips and stretches the inner thighs.

  • Malasana (Garland Pose): Deepens hip flexibility and strengthens the legs.

  • Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog): Warms up the entire body and stretches the hamstrings.


Follow-Up Poses

After practicing Eka Pada Utkatasana, it’s important to cool down and stretch the muscles that were heavily engaged. Follow-up poses can help release tension and restore balance:

  • Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend): Stretches the hamstrings and lower back.

  • Balasana (Child’s Pose): Relaxes the body and stretches the hips.

  • Supta Padangusthasana (Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose): Stretches the hamstrings and calves.

  • Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana): Deepens hip flexibility and releases tension.


Chakra

Eka Pada Utkatasana is primarily associated with the Svadhisthana Chakra, the sacral chakra. This chakra, located in the lower abdomen, is connected to creativity, pleasure, and emotional balance. Engaging the Svadhisthana Chakra through this pose can enhance your sense of creativity and emotional well-being.

Svadhisthana Chakra

Mantra for this Pose

A powerful mantra to accompany Eka Pada Utkatasana is: “Om Vam” (pronounced as Om Vahm)

This mantra is associated with the Svadhisthana Chakra and can help activate the energy of this center, promoting a sense of creativity and balance.

“Om Vam” 

Alignment Cues

  • Grounding Foot: Ensure your standing foot is firmly grounded and your weight is evenly distributed.

  • Hips: Keep your hips square and level to maintain balance.

  • Knee Alignment: Avoid letting the knee of your standing leg collapse inward.

  • Core: Engage your core muscles to support your balance and stability.

  • Gaze: Fix your gaze on a point in front of you to help with balance.


Duration of Hold

Hold Eka Pada Utkatasana for 5-10 breaths initially, gradually increasing the duration as your strength and balance improve. Focus on maintaining proper alignment and breathing steadily.


Drishti

Your drishti (gaze) in Eka Pada Utkatasana should be focused on a point in front of you at eye level. This helps with balance and concentration.


Physical & Spiritual Awareness

Physical Awareness

  • Strength: Feel the power in your legs and core as they support your body.

  • Balance: Focus on maintaining stability and even distribution of weight.

  • Engagement: Notice the engagement of your glutes and hip flexors as you hold the pose.


Spiritual Awareness

  • Creativity: Eka Pada Utkatasana connects to the Svadhisthana Chakra, enhancing your sense of creativity.

  • Emotional Balance: The pose promotes emotional well-being and balance.

  • Focus: The pose requires concentration, fostering mindfulness and mental clarity.


Beginners’ Tips

  • Use Props: Place a block or chair under your hips for added support and stability.

  • Practice Balance: Work on simpler balance poses like Tree Pose to build confidence and strength.

  • Strengthen Core: Incorporate core-strengthening exercises into your routine to support your balance.

  • Stretch Regularly: Consistently practice hip and hamstring stretches to increase flexibility.


Who Should Not Do It

  • Injuries: Individuals with knee, hip, or ankle injuries should avoid this pose.

  • Balance Issues: Those with significant balance issues should practice under supervision or avoid it until ready.

  • Pregnancy: This pose is not recommended during pregnancy due to the balance and pressure on the hips.


Who Should Do It

  • Yoga Enthusiasts: Those with a regular yoga practice looking to enhance balance and strength.

  • Athletes: Individuals looking to improve their leg strength and stability.

  • Focus Seekers: Those who enjoy challenging poses that require mental concentration and balance.


Benefits of Figure Four Pose (Eka Pada Utkatasana)

Physical Benefits

  • Strengthens Legs and Core: Enhances lower body strength and core stability.

  • Improves Balance and Coordination: Develops a strong sense of balance and body awareness.

  • Increases Hip Flexibility: Opens the hips and stretches the glutes and hip flexors.

  • Tones Glutes: Engages and strengthens the glute muscles.


Mental and Emotional Benefits

  • Boosts Confidence: Successfully achieving this challenging pose can increase self-esteem and confidence.

  • Promotes Focus: Requires intense concentration, promoting mindfulness and mental clarity.

  • Reduces Stress: Engaging in balancing poses can help release tension and reduce stress levels.


Variations of Figure Four Pose (Eka Pada Utkatasana)

Advanced Variations

  • Figure Four Forward Fold: From the figure four position, hinge at the hips and fold forward, bringing your hands to the ground.

  • Figure Four Twist: Add a twist by bringing your opposite elbow to the sole of your crossed foot while in the figure four position.


Simplified Variations

  • Seated Figure Four: Perform the pose seated on the ground, crossing one ankle over the opposite thigh and leaning forward.

  • Figure Four Against the Wall: Use a wall for support to help with balance and stability.


Modifications for Figure Four Pose (Eka Pada Utkatasana)

  • Use a Strap: Place a strap around your raised foot to help with balance and alignment.

  • Wall Support: Practice with your back against a wall to help maintain balance.

  • Additional Support: Place a block or bolster under your hips for added support and stability.


Common Mistakes

  • Drooping Hip: Ensure your hips stay level and squared forward, avoiding tilting to one side.

  • Collapsed Chest: Keep your chest lifted and your spine lengthened to maintain proper alignment.

  • Rounded Back: Aim to keep your spine straight and avoid rounding your back.

  • Overarching Lower Back: Engage your core to prevent excessive arching in the lower back.

  • Straining the Neck: Keep your neck relaxed and aligned with your spine; avoid craning the neck forward.


Safety and Precautions

  • Warm Up: Always warm up your body before attempting Figure Four Pose to prevent injury.

  • Listen to Your Body: Respect your body’s limits and avoid pushing yourself too far beyond what feels comfortable.

  • Consult a Professional: If you have any concerns or medical conditions, consult with a yoga instructor or healthcare professional before attempting this pose.


Additional Preparation Tips

Direction to Face While Doing This Pose and Why

Face eastward while practicing Figure Four Pose to align with the energy of new beginnings and rejuvenation. This direction can enhance your focus and intention during your practice.


What to Wear for This Pose

Opt for comfortable, flexible clothing that allows for a full range of motion. Yoga pants or leggings and a fitted top are ideal, ensuring they do not restrict movement or slip during the pose.


Suitable Place and Essential Oil or Fragrance

Choose a quiet and clean space with enough room to move freely. Consider using essential oils such as lavender or chamomile to promote relaxation and calmness during your practice.


Music for This Pose

Select calming instrumental music or nature sounds that promote a sense of tranquility and concentration. Soft melodies or ambient music can enhance your focus and create a serene atmosphere for your practice.


Remember, yoga is not just about the physical postures but also about the journey of self-awareness and personal growth. Each time you step onto your mat and into Figure Four Pose, celebrate your progress and honor your body’s wisdom.

So, take a deep breath, find your balance, and allow it to guide you on your path to physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.



Happy Yoga-ing!

Namaste!



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Jun 20
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

I can definitely feel ohm vam in my sacral chakra!! Thanks !!

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Glad you’re enjoying it! Namaste 🙏💜

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About the Author

Namaste! I'm Pooja Chauhan

RYT 200Hrs | Meditation Coach 

Diving deep into the realm of yoga to revive its original teachings to create a significant impact in preserving and sharing them with the world.

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