Utthan Pristhasana – Lizard pose can be an intense hip opener and can create some intense sensation. Lizard pose is a great way to practice steady and full breathing and being present in the body, allowing the pose to slowly do its work. Like Pigeon, it’s a pose you can spend minutes in and allow gravity to further increase your flexibility.
2. Let your hips grow heavy, so that they settle forwards and down. Begin to walk your hands forwards until you are able to come down on to your forearms. You may place your forearms on the ground, or on a block. Either rest your hands palms facing down on the mat, or bring your hands together in prayer position.
3. Extend your heart forward, lengthening the spine. Try to soften the heart and draw the shoulder blades together, taking the rounding out of your back.
4. Keep your right knee hugging towards your midline to get into the inner hip and thigh area of your right leg. You can keep your left knee lifted with your leg active, or for a more restorative version, you can lower your left knee.
Lizard Pose is a versatile pose with many benefits:
Opens the hips, hamstrings, groins and hip flexors
Strengthens the inner thigh muscles on the front leg
Opens and releases the chest, shoulders and neck
Prepares the body for deeper hip openers such as Pigeon Pose and Hanuman Pose
Outer hip variation:
With your forearms on the ground, flex your right foot, drawing your toes towards your shin.
Begin to let your right knee draw outwards toward the right, rolling to the outside edge of your right foot. Make sure to keep your foot flexed to protect the ankle and the knee.
Quad stretch variation:
From the outer hip variation, with your left knee lowered, reach back with your right hand and take hold of your left foot. Begin to draw your foot towards your buttocks as your hips continue to draw forwards.
Open your heart towards the sky and lean back towards the left.
Breathe at any stage or variation of the pose for 5-10 breaths, then step back to Downward Facing Dog Pose. Repeat with the left leg forwards.
You do not need to take all of the above variations listed; choose the stage of the pose that is best suited to your practice.
You may use a block or a bolster to rest your forearms on.
You may need a strap to grab hold of your foot in the quad stretch variation
Don’t drop the head and collapse through the chest in Lizard pose. Keeping the head and neck aligned with the spine by lifting the chin slightly and sending the gaze forward allows for more extension along the body (rather than contraction).
Utthan Pristhasana, Lizard Pose counter poses
In yoga we use a counter pose in a sequence; For example, a twist follows a backbend to “neutralise” the spine, or a forward bend follows a backbend to help lengthen the spine and calm the nervous system.
Lili has been studying and practising yoga in China & UK for 20 years, and teaching since 2007. She draws inspiration from her training within established, classical yoga systems that focus on alignment, hatha vinyasa in its gentler form, yin, yin/yang, and restorative yoga styles, pranayama and meditation; blending the roots of Chinese healing traditions into a more holistic practice.
For her, practice covers not just the physical aspects of yoga but also aligning and unblocking the bodies meridian energy pathways to release Qi energy (prana) which flows through the bodies energy highway, bringing the mind, body and spirit back into balance.
“I am continually humbled by my students and teachers, my aim is always to teach from the heart and from the idea that yoga is the art of living, listening and learning, to embody this deeply spiritual tradition”
– Lili Chen.