Lizard, or Utthan Pristasana, is a common hip opener that many yoga practitioners meet with a grimace. Utthan means to stretch out. Pristha means the page of a book. This posture can prepare you for even deeper hip openers such as pigeon pose and Hanumanasana.
Come into Lizard with intention: begin in downward facing dog and on an exhale step the right foot to the right outside edge of your mat. Make sure the foot comes all the way to the front of your mat so your toes are in line with your fingers. Walk the hands under the shoulders and then tone the belly and find length in the spine. Take a moment to check in with the sensations in the hip flexors and the quadriceps. If it feels good you can take the forearms down to blocks or even all the way down to the mat. You may also keep the back knee lifted for a more active version of Lizard. Wherever you choose to hold, work on softening into the hips as much as possible. If the back knee feels uncomfortable, you can add a rolled-up towel or mat underneath it to support it. If you want to go deeper, roll onto the outer edge of the right foot and let the right knee fall open to the right. You can also try bending the left leg, twisting the torso towards the right knee, and reaching the right hand back for the left ankle or foot to add a quadricep stretch. Remember that you never have to land your forearms on the mat. Props are your friends, so embrace the support they offer: if they enhance your experience of lizard pose, make good use of them. Stay in your version of Lizard for at least five breaths, and then take the left side. As you transition to the second side, be open to a new experience: our flexibility can vary greatly from side to side.
While you’re in the posture, locate at least one place in your body that you can soften. Get in touch with your breath and then send it into the stretch, using each exhale to find a little bit more space. Imagine that you are gently opening the pages of a brand new book, mindful of any potentially stiff pages and excited about what stories may lie within.
Do you have a pose you’d like us to dive into? Email Emily@ashevillecommunityyoga.com.