Utthan Pristhasana: The Lizard Pose

Utthan Pristhasana (OOT-ahn preesth- AHS – anna), also known as the Lizard Pose, is a mild versatile exercise that strengthens the groin and inner hamstrings while preparing the body for deeper hip openers. During each exercise, make sure to maintain a focus on your breathing.

Sanskrit:

  • Utthan: stretch out
  • Pristha: page of the book; back of the body
  • Asana: pose

Tips:

This intense hip opener stretches the hips and groin. While this can help with relief from discomfort and prevent strain, exercise caution. Go slowly and don’t push your body beyond its limits.

Level:

Advanced (3)

Physical Benefits:

  • Opens the hips, hamstrings, groins and hip flexors
  • Strengthens the inner thigh muscles on the front leg

Energetic Benefits:

  • Opens and releases the chest, shoulders and neck
  • Prepares the body for deeper hip openers such as Pigeon Pose and Hanuman Pose

Mudra: Surya Mudra

The Surya Mudra symbolizes life, health and the rejuvenating cycle that can be seen and tied to the Sun and its orbit. This mudra is specifically useful for holistically boosting the metabolism, bringing revitalized energy into your exercise and relieving anxiety you may encounter in your daily life.

How to: Relax both hands and gently bend the ring finger and thumb until they touch one another on the palm of each hand. This represents the unity of fire and earth.

Mantra:

Ashtanga Mantra

As this pose is preparatory in nature and often is part of the opening or beginning of a routine, the Ashtanga opening mantra is a purposeful way to start your exercise. Practice this mantra with your pose by reciting the following lines:

Om

Vande Gurunam charanaravinde

Sandarshita svatmasukavabodhe

Nishreyase jangalikayamane

Samsara halahala mohashantyai

Abahu purushakaram

Shankhacakrsi dharinam

Sahasra sirasam svetam

Pranamami patanjalim

Om

Translation:

Om

I pray to the lotus feet of the supreme guru

Who teaches knowledge, awakening of the great happiness of the Self revealed

Who acts like the jungle physician

Able to remove the delusion from the poison of conditioned existence

To Patanjali, an incarnation of Adisesa, white in colour with a thousand radiant heads (in his form as the divine serpent, Ananta), human in form below the shoulders, holding the sword of discrimination, a wheel of fire representing infinite time, and the conch representing divine sound.

To him, I prostrate.

Om (Source)

Preparatory Poses:

  • Tadasana
  • Vasisthasana
  • Standing Poses (Warrior 1 & 2)

Follow-Up Poses:

  • Utkatasana
  • Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
  • Krounchasana
  • Parivrtta Surya Yantrasana
  • Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana
  • Eka Pada Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
  • Savasana
  • Pigeon Pose
  • Hanuman Pose

Contraindications and Cautions:

This pose is an intense hip stretch and you should check with a doctor before performing the pose if you have any of the following conditions:

  • Sciatica
  • Lower back injuries

Adjustments/Modifications:

  • 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

Step-By-Step:

  1. From Downward Facing Dog Pose, step your right foot forwards between your hands. Heel-toe your foot towards the edge of your mat, so that your foot is slightly wider than your shoulders.
  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.
  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.

Outer hip variation:

  1. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Open your heart towards the sky and lean back towards the left.
  3. 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.

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