Lizard Pose (Utthan Pristhasana)

Hip Opener Yoga Exercise

Lizard Yoga Pose (Utthan Pristhasana)
Ann Pizer

The lizard pose (Utthan Pristhasana) can be pretty intense on the hips, but there are a lot of ways to modify it so that it becomes more accessible to practitioners with different degrees of mobility. If you're tight in this area, look below for instructions on how to use props for support. On the other hand, if you have more flexibility there are also several ways to intensify the pose for those who want to go a little deeper.

  • Type of Pose: Standing, Hip Opener
  • Benefits: Stretches the hamstrings, hip flexors, and quadriceps, helping you maintain a full range of motion. It can prepare you for even deeper hip openers such as the Pigeon Pose and Hanuman Pose.
  • Cautions: If you have a lower back injury or sciatica, you may want to check with your doctor before performing this pose.
  • Sanskrit Name and Meaning: Utthan means to stretch out. Pristha means the page of a book. Asana means pose.

Instructions for Lizard Pose

  1. From downward facing dog, step your right foot to the outside of your right hand. Make sure your foot comes all the way to the front of your mat so your toes are in line with your fingers. 
  2. Bend your right knee and turn your right toes out about 45 degrees.
  3. Bring your elbows to the floor with the forearms flat on your mat. Spread your palms out on the floor. Use a block underneath the forearms if necessary.
  4. Keep your head in a neutral position, neither dropping it down nor crooking it up.
  1. Press into your left heel to keep your left leg active so your hips don't sag toward the floor.
  2. Stay for five breaths. Practice deep, full breaths.
  3. To come out, straighten your arms so that your wrists are under your shoulders. Then step back to downward dog and take several breaths.
  4. Now perform the pose on the other side.

    Beginner Tips

    These tips can make the Lizard Pose easier if you don't have as much flexibility or range of motion:

    • Lower your left knee to the mat if that feels better in your body.
    • Keep your arms straight if coming down to the elbows on a block is still too intense.
    • You can use a block under your forearms for comfort. If the back knee feels uncomfortable, you can add a rolled-up towel or mat underneath it to support it.

    Advanced Tips

    To intensify the Lizard Pose, use these tips:

    1. If you want to go deeper, roll onto the outer edge of the right foot and let your right knee fall open to the right. 
    2. Drop the left knee to the floor.
    3. Bend your left knee so the sole of your foot faces the ceiling.
    4. Reach your right hand behind your back and take hold of your left foot.
    5. Draw your foot toward your butt for an intense quad stretch. You can do this with your left arm straight or with your left forearm on the floor if that's possible.
    6. You may want to use a strap to grab your foot to achieve this pose.

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