Lizard pose (Utthan Pristhasana in Sanskrit) is a hip opening yoga pose. This pose opens the hips and stretches the muscles of the hamstrings and thighs. Lizard pose also strengthens the lower back muscles.
To move into lizard pose, begin in downward facing dog. From downward dog, bring the right foot forward and place it next to the right hand. The foot should be positioned on the outside of the hand and the hips should be square and facing the front of the mat.
Bring the left knee to the ground and rest it on your yoga mat, if you are a beginner. If you feel ready for more challenge, you can keep this leg extended. With the leg extended, your feet will be flexed and resting on the toes.
Bend the arms and lower down onto your elbows. The forearms should be resting on the mat, facing forward and the palms of the hands should be flat on the mat, palms facing down.
The head should be facing forward with the neck relaxed and free of tension. If you are able to do so, you can lower your head and gaze at the floor between your arms.
There are some precautions and contraindications for lizard pose. Certain conditions that cause discomfort in the knees, elbows or hips may mean you should skip this pose or modify it. If you have any conditions that affect these areas of the body, consult your doctor, yoga therapist or instructor for advice on modifying this pose or replacing it with another hip opener.
Breathe in this pose for thirty seconds or so before moving out of it. Come out of the pose gently and return to your start position in downward facing dog. As with all yoga poses, repeat the sequence on the other side of the body by bringing the left foot forward and placing the right knee down on the mat.
This asana can be modified, as needed, if you have trouble moving into the full pose or feel strained in the full pose. Blocks are generally used to modify the pose. Yoga blocks can be used under the arms or knee, according to your needs. In a yoga class, the instructor can offer suggestions for modifications to fit your individual needs.