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Lizard Pose


Yoga Posture - Lizard Pose

If you feel the need or desire to open and challenge your hips, then you may love Lizard Pose!

However, keep in mind that this pose can test your hip flexibility in a major way. In other words, Lizard also known as Utthan Pristhasana is no joking matter. You will likely need plenty of patience as you begin the journey of adding this yoga pose to your daily practice. As a result, many yoga students have a love and hate relationship with this posture.

I suppose this pose does look somewhat like a lizard, but there's no doubt that the pose has become a popular posture that you're likely to experience in most yoga classes. Since the pose focuses on the hips, most men usually struggle with the posture. It's likely safe to say that Lizard is a little more popular with female students.

The Sanskrit name or translation is Utthan Pristhasana. The breakdown for the Sanskrit name is as follows, "Utthan" meaning "Stretching Out", "Pristha" meaning "Back of the Body" and "Asana" meaning "Posture or Pose".

This pose is certainly a versatile posture that can be both an active pose and at the same time offer a passive stretch. It's not at all uncommon to see the pose used in either Yin or restorative yoga classes as a deep stretch. On the other end of the spectrum, this posture can even be considered as a prep pose for some arm balances.


Benefits Of The Pose:

As both a passive and active posture, Utthan Pristhasana successfully delivers a variety of potential benefits. Whether you take advantage of the pose's passive attributes in a Yin style practice or use it in a more active manner to prepare for deeper hip openers or arm balances, the benefits can be plentiful. Benefits include opening or stretching the hips, stretching the hamstrings, releasing the chest and shoulders, and helping prepare you for deeper stretches.

Primarily a hip opener, Lizard Pose provides the body the benefits of increasing flexibility in the hips. Many muscles cross the hips, giving attention to those muscles can lead to positive results on the mat and within our daily lives. Open hips can make many other yoga poses easier, but open hips can also make it much easier to simply bend over and pick something up off the floor.

Many yoga instructors and yogic experts view the hips as a gathering point for stress and emotions. Naturally, they also feel that opening the hips can help reduce or release the negative feelings held within the hips.

If you sit for long periods of time, the hip flexors which are referred to as "iliopsoas" can be shortened and place stress on the spine and lower back. Opening the hips and lengthening the iliopsoas can help to counteract this process and provide balance within the hips.

Primary Benefits:

Stretches Hamstrings

Opens The Hips

Reduces Stress & Tension

Strengthens Leg Muscles

Preps For Deeper Stretches







Prep & Follow Up Poses:

There are numerous less challenging hip openers that can help prepare you for Lizard. Some of these postures include Child's Pose, Low Lunge or Runner's Lunge, and Bound Angle Pose. A standing yoga pose like Triangle Pose may also be beneficial.

Lizard may be better known for the poses that it can help prepare you to achieve. Some of these poses include deeper stretches like full splits or Hanumanasana Pose. The pose can also help with King Pigeon Pose and certain arm balances.


Modifications & Cautions:

Feel free to keep your arms straight with the palms on the floor if you're unable to place your forearms on the ground. It's not needed to place forearms on the floor for the pose to be beneficial. You can also place a block on the mat to raise the floor to your forearms or hands.

You can drop the back knee to the ground if that makes the posture more comfortable. Placing a blanket under the knee will also aid in comfort.

There are two basic variations or modifications of Lizard Pose including an outer hip variation and a simple quad stretch variation. For a little more stretch in the outer hip, position yourself in the pose fully, gently allow the front knee to move outwards while allowing the front foot to lift onto its outer edge. Remember to flex the front foot with the toes raising toward the shin. In the quad stretch variation, start in the outer hip version with the left knee lowered and the right foot forward, gently reach back with the right hand to grab your left foot, pull the foot toward your glutes while opening your chest. Hold the pose and then gently release the foot back to ground.

As for cautions, be aware of knee and hip injuries while practicing this posture. Be sure to allow any injuries to fully heal before returning to your practice and consult a doctor.

Major Tips:

The back knee can be placed on the earth or you can raise it to provide a greater challenge during the posture.

Remember to stay up on the toes of the back foot, keeping the toes grounded into the mat.

Try to keep a long spine with the chest sinking to basically shoulder level.

Avoid allowing the neck and head to sink, keep the neck straight with your gaze forward.

Don't become overly concerned about placing the forearms on the earth, keeping the arms straight with the palms on the ground perfectly acceptable.




Step-By-Step Instructions:

There are a number of poses that offer a nice transition to Lizard, but for our purposes we will start in Downward Facing Dog.

While in Down Dog take a deep breath and on exhale step your right foot forward and place it on the outside of your right hand while keeping both your arms to the inside of your right leg and foot.

Slowly lower your left knee to the earth, make sure to release your left foot and place your toes on the mat while flexing the foot. Make sure that the right knee is aligned with the right ankle.

Try to keep your hips level with the weight distributed evenly across the hips.

Extend and lengthen the spine drawing a straight line with your neck, try not to allow the neck and head to sink or drop toward the mat.

If comfortable, you can lower the forearms to the ground keeping the chest open and back lengthened.

For a greater challenge, you may lift the left knee of the mat and press into the ball of the left foot.

Hold the pose for several breaths and then slowly exit the pose and transition back into Downward Facing Dog.