Utthan Pristhasana (Lizard Pose): Steps, Benefits and Contraindications

Utthan Pristhasana (Lizard Pose) - Sharp Muscle
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Updated: February 18, 2023

The Utthan Pristhasana, also known as Lizard Pose, stretches the hips, hamstrings, quadriceps and strengthens the leg and inner thighs muscles.

Utthan Pristhasana is a great pose for anyone looking to improve their flexibility, balance, and strength. It can be especially helpful for people who sit for long periods of time, as it helps to release tension in the hips and lower back. It is also a great pose for runners and athletes, as it helps to stretch the hip flexors and improve range of motion.

Information

Known as:Utthan Pristhasana, Lizard Pose, Gecko Pose
Sanskrit name:उत्थान पृष्ठासन
IAST:Utthan Pristhāsana
Pronunciation:OOT-ahn preesth-AHS-ah-nah
Level:Intermediate
Type:Hip opener, balance
Focus:Hips, hamstrings, shoulders, arms
Total time:30 to 60 seconds
Drishti:Forward;
Tip of nose (Nasikagra or Agochari)
Chakra:Manipura Chakra, Svadisthana Chakra, Muladhara Chakra
Indications:Gluteus maximus, hip flexors, hamstrings, shoulders, arms, reproductive system
Counterposes:Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana), Child’s Pose (Balasana), Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana), Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana), Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
Preparatory poses:Anjenayasana (Crescent Lunge Pose), Anjenayasana (Monkey Pose), Ananda Balasana (Happy Baby Pose)
Follow-up poses:Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (Half Pigeon Pose), Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana (Revolved Head-to-Knee Pose), Ardha Hanumanasana (Half Splits Pose), Eka Pada Koundinyasana (Flying Splits Pose)
Contraindications:Knee, or hip injuries, lower back pain, sciatica

Meaning

Utthan Pristhasana

The Utthan Pristhasana is derived from the Sanskrit name, which is made up of three words — Utthan + Pristha + Asana:

  1. Utthan” = “stretch out”
  2. Pristha” = “back of the body or page of a book”
  3. Asana” = “pose or posture”

In Utthan Pristhasana, the practitioner comes into a pose that resembles a lizard with the front leg bent, the back leg extended, and the torso lowered down toward the ground. This pose is a deep hip opener that targets the hip flexors, hip extensors, and inner thighs. It also strengthens the core and improves balance and flexibility.

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As with many yoga poses, Utthan Pristhasana has both physical and symbolic meanings. Symbolically, the lizard is seen as a symbol of regeneration, new beginnings, and the ability to adapt and thrive in challenging environments. The pose can be seen as an opportunity to shed old patterns and embrace new possibilities.

Benefits of Utthan Pristhasana (Lizard Pose)

The physical and mental benefits of this pose are listed below:

  1. Physical Benefits:
    • Strengthens the hamstring and quadriceps muscles
    • Opens the hips, groins, hamstrings, and hip flexors
    • Tones the chest, shoulders, hips, and gluteus maximus muscles
    • Improves the flexibility
    • Helps boost energy in the body
    • Activate the reproductive system
    • Stimulates the internal organs
    • Deep stretches the lower abdomen, including the pelvic area
    • Reduce symptoms related to menopause
    • Energize the spine
    • Reduces the excess fat around the belly (lower abdomen)
  2. Mental Benefits:

Utthan Pristhasana (Lizard Pose) Practice Guide

Utthan Pristhasana (Lizard Pose) Steps - Sharp Muscle
© image: Instagram/Saralu

Instructions

  • Begin by creating Downward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana) on a yoga mat.
  • Place your right foot forward between your hands.
  • To make the feet a little wider than the shoulders, move the heel-toe towards the edge of the yoga mat.
  • Let the hips settle forward and down.
  • Now slowly walk the hands forward until they come down on the forearms.
  • Keep your forearms on the floor. Beginners can use a block, and keep their forearm on the block.
  • Open your chest, lengthen your spine.
  • Draw the shoulder blades together, rounding out the back.
  • To move to the inner hip and thigh area of ​​the right leg, bring the right knee towards the midline.
  • You can either lower your left knee or raise your left knee, keeping your leg active.
  • Look straight or at the tip of the nose.
  • Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds.
  • Repeat the process from the opposite side.
  • Practicing this yoga posture at least 3 times (from both the sides) will give better results.

Alignment tips

Proper alignment helps to prevent injury, ensures that the muscles are working effectively, and allows for the maximum benefits of each pose to be achieved.

Here are some alignment tips for Utthan Pristhasana (Lizard Pose):

  • Keep your front knee aligned with your ankle: As you lower your front knee to the ground, make sure that your knee is aligned with your ankle. Your knee should not be collapsing inward or moving past your ankle. This will help protect your knee and ensure proper alignment in the pose.
  • Square your hips: To get the most benefit from this pose, it’s important to square your hips. This means that your hips are facing forward, rather than twisting to one side. To help square your hips, press your back leg away from you and engage your inner thighs.
  • Lengthen your spine: Keep your spine long and your chest open in this pose. Avoid collapsing forward and rounding your spine. Instead, think about lifting your heart and lengthening through your crown.
  • Engage your core: To protect your lower back, engage your core muscles. Draw your navel in toward your spine and keep your core engaged throughout the pose.
  • Use props: If you’re feeling tight in your hips or your forearms don’t comfortably reach the ground, use props to support your body. Blocks, blankets, or a bolster can help you maintain proper alignment and get the most out of the pose.
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Common mistakes

Yoga is a practice that requires mindfulness and attention to detail, and even small misalignments can have a big impact on the effectiveness of the practice and the risk of injury. Here are the common mistakes people make in Utthan Pristhasana (Lizard Pose):

  • Letting the front knee collapse inward: This can cause strain on the knee joint and make it more difficult to get a deep stretch in the hip. Keep the knee aligned with the ankle and point it slightly outward.
  • Forgetting to engage the core: This can put pressure on the lower back and make it difficult to maintain proper alignment in the pose. Engage the core by drawing the navel in toward the spine and keeping the abdominals activated.
  • Allowing the hips to twist: This can take the stretch out of the hip and put unnecessary strain on the lower back. Keep the hips square and facing forward throughout the pose.
  • Collapsing the chest and rounding the spine: This can cause the shoulders to tense up and make it difficult to breathe deeply. Keep the chest open and the spine long throughout the pose.
  • Forcing the stretch: It’s important to remember that yoga is a practice of mindfulness and self-care. Avoid forcing your body into a position that doesn’t feel comfortable or natural. Instead, work slowly and mindfully to deepen the pose over time.

Modifications

There are several modifications that can be made to Utthan Pristhasana (Lizard Pose) to make it more accessible for different bodies and levels of practice. Here are a few modifications you can try:

  • Forearms on blocks: If you’re unable to reach the ground with your forearms, place them on blocks. This will allow you to maintain proper alignment and get the most out of the pose.
  • Use a strap: If you’re unable to reach your back foot with your hand, use a strap to help. Loop the strap around the top of your back foot and hold onto the ends.
  • Keep the back knee down: If you’re unable to straighten the back leg or lift the knee off the ground, keep it down. This will make the pose more accessible and still allow you to get a stretch in the hip.
  • High lunge variation: Instead of lowering the knee to the ground, keep it lifted and come into a high lunge variation. This will allow you to get a similar stretch in the hip without putting as much pressure on the knee joint.
  • Wall variation: If you’re feeling unstable or unbalanced in the pose, try using a wall for support. Stand facing the wall with your feet hip-distance apart and your hands on the wall. Step your right foot forward and bring your hands to the wall at shoulder height. Press into the wall and sink into the stretch.
Note:
Remember that modifications are a great way to make the pose more accessible, but they don’t have to be used forever. As you become more comfortable with the pose, you can work toward deeper expressions. Always listen to your body and practice with mindfulness and awareness.

Precautions and contraindications

There are some important points to keep in mind while practicing Gecko Pose (Lizard Pose) to avoid further damage to the muscles or ligaments.

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There are some precautions and contraindications to keep in mind while practicing the pose, which are explained below:

Knee or hip injury

When the person is injured, it is always best to avoid the pose for a certain period of time, and seek instruction from an expert to recover from the injury.

Weak shoulder joint or forearm

In Utthan Pristhasana (Gecko Pose), the body balances on the shoulders and forearms while going into a low lunge. The pressure on the shoulders and forearms is intense, making it difficult for a person with weak shoulders, and therefore it is best to go slow under the guidance of a yoga teacher/instructor while practicing this pose.

Lower back pain

During the practice of Lizard Pose, the tension in the lower back is excessive, there is a deep stretch in the hips and there is also a deep stretch in the inner thighs. These stretches put pressure on the lower back, as well as try to balance the body on the forearms in this low lunge, which leads to more unwanted strain on the lower back muscles, leading to discomfort, and therefore best to avoid.

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