Lizard Pose, Utthan Pristhasana, (OOT-tahn prish-TAH-suh-nuh)
utthan (stretch out) + pristha (page of a book) + asana (pose)
Also Known as: Gecko Pose, Dragon Flying Low
Pose Type: Stretching
Open your hips and explore Lizard Pose for a deep stretch.
Lizard Pose Fundamentals
Release tension and open your lower body in this deep hip stretch. Lizard Pose is similar to lunge but is more intense as you are managing your body on your forearms.
The pose is one of the best choices for anyone who is working to improve flexibility in their hips and legs. It’s fantastic as a preparation for full splits if that’s something you’re currently going towards.
You will often encounter Lizard Pose in the stretching sequences of Vinyasa Yoga. The passive variation is a part of Yin Yoga, where it’s called Dragon Flying Low.
The main difference between the two is your engagement and hold time. In Vinyasa and other dynamic styles, you will work on activating your muscles and going as deep as you comfortably can, to work on elongating your muscles.
In Yin and Restorative practice, you will remain passive, use props for support and hold the pose for a couple of minutes in complete stillness, to work on deeper connective tissues, joints, and meridians.
Many yoga poses were named after animals, and although there is typically a hidden meaning in them, in the case of Lizard pose, the name is quite literal. Once you reach the pose, you will appear as a stretched lizard sitting on a rock and bathing in the sun. Lizards are very flexible, and we are trying to acquire this same flexibility with this asana.
In the case of intense poses such as Lizard, students are often comparing themselves to others, especially in a studio setting. Comparing doesn’t only block you mentally, but may also lead you to go beyond your limits and injure yourself when it comes to deep stretches like Lizard.
Never forget that everyone comes on the mat with a different level of flexibility and different anatomy.
Depending on your anatomical structure, you may find Lizard easy or difficult, and you may even need to change the alignment to better suit your needs. Rather than trying to achieve a picture-perfect pose, forget how it looks and observe how it feels.
Find an angle and setup that works for your body, and only when you adapt the pose to become your own, will you be able to enjoy its full benefits.
Lizard Pose & The Chakra System
In this manner, Lizard pose can become a tool with which you are not only increasing your physical flexibility but also your mental one, becoming more open-minded.
It also works on an energetic level, by stimulating the Sacral Chakra, which has a similar action, increasing our generosity, confidence, and emotional health.
Lizard Pose Benefits
- Stretches and opens the hips, hamstrings, quadriceps, chest, and ankles.
- Strengthens the glutes and the shoulders.
- The deep stretch in the pelvic area stimulates the reproductive system and may support the proper function of reproductive organs.
- Increases the sense of balance and body awareness.
- A fantastic position for athletes, particularly runners, soccer players, bikers, and weight lifters as it helps release pent-up tension in the leg muscles.
- Stimulates internal organs, so it may boost the natural detoxification process in the body.
How To Do Lizard Pose: Step-By-Step
How To Get There:
1. Begin in Downward-Facing Dog Pose. Step your right foot forward, next to the outside of your right hand. The foot should be at the same level as your hands, and the knee should form a 90-degree angle. You can slightly point out the toes if that feels better.
2. Drop your hips and begin walking your hands forward, until you can comfortably rest your forearms on the floor. Keep your elbows parallel to each other. You can place your palms on a mat or clasp them together.
3. Keep your upper body long and your chest open. You can rest the left knee on the floor or lift it to feel even more engagement in the leg.
4. Hold the pose for around 5 breaths, release back to Down Dog, then repeat the same steps on the other side.
Tips And Tricks:
- Both knee-down and knee-lifted variations are appropriate. Your choice will depend on your flexibility and strength, but also on whether you want to make the pose more active or restorative.
- Feel free to use any props that may help you feel more comfortable in the pose, like a blanket under your knee or a block under your forearms.
- Keep the neck aligned with the rest of the spine and actively push through the chest to create more length in the body.
Lizard Pose Variation:
Lizard Pose Variation: Lizard Pose With A Block
If your hips are tight or the pose simply isn’t comfortable, try practicing with blocks. To do so, simply place blocks under your forearms.
The extra height will slightly reduce the hip stretch, and the blocks will provide more cushioning for your forearms.
This variation may also help those who feel tension or pinching in the shoulders whilst holding the pose.
Lizard Pose Variation: Lizard Pose With A Quad Stretch
If you want to feel an even deeper stretch, try this variation. First, open your front knee slightly outwards. Move onto the outside of your foot. Keep your back knee low and bend it. Now, try to grasp the foot with the opposite hand, and draw the foot towards the glutes.
You can also use a strap, and if it’s too difficult to enter the twist, grab the foot with the same-sided hand.
Lizard Pose Variation: Flying Lizard Pose
If you’re an advanced student, you can also try the arm balance based on Lizard Pose.
Perform the same steps as you would for classic Lizard. When you enter the pose, keep the right arm under the right (front) thigh. Move your arms in Chaturanga position, then wrap the front foot around the arm. When you’re ready, move your torso slightly forward and lift the back leg off the mat.
Precautions & Contraindications:
Forcing the Pose. Try not to compare yourself to others—only go as deep as comfortable. You don’t have to enter the pose to your fullest capacity immediately, deepen the pose gradually and with awareness.
Incorrect Stance. It’s common not to bring the front foot forward enough. A stance that’s too short may lead to slouching in the shoulders or putting the front knee in the wrong position. Make sure your foot comes all the way next to your hand when you’re entering the pose from Downward Dog.
Hips uneven. Avoid twisting the hips, try to stack them and keep them aligned. If the hips are twisting, that will also impact the alignment in your spine, so you won’t be able to enjoy the maximum benefit of the pose.
Injury In the Hips or Shoulders
Avoid the pose if you have an injury in the knees, hips, shoulders, and forearms. Also, avoid if you have weak shoulders or wrists, as the pose may be too intense. Those who have chronic or severe low back pain should also refrain from practicing the pose.
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