Uttana Pristhasana – Lizard Pose, How To Do, Benefits, Effect On Dosha

By Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S

In this pose the practitioner raises his back on support of one leg placed in front forming an angle of 90 degree at knee and foot on ground and other leg stretched back, toes pressing on to the floor. In this pose the practitioner assumes the shape of a lizard. Therefore this pose is also called as lizard pose.
Utthana = raised / stretch
Pristha = back
Asana = pose

This pose targets the hips, groin and inner part of hamstrings. It is also considered to be an intermediate pose. This pose opens up your hips. Uttana also mean to stretch and this pose stretches your back and lower limbs. It is one of the important poses in Sun Salutation sequence.
Read – Health Benefits Of Yoga: Mind And Body

Preparation for Utthan Pristhasana

  • Utthan Pristhasana should be preferably done early in the morning. If it cannot be practiced in the morning, it shall be done in the evening.
  • It should preferably be done on empty stomach.
  • Have food 4-6 hours before doing the pose.
  • Empty your bladder and bowel while doing the pose.

Method of doing

Positioning for the Asana

Performing and getting to the Utthan Pristhasana

  • Exhale as you step right foot ahead, to the outside of right hand. Your foot should be placed all the way to the front of the mat. Toes should be in line with your fingers.
  • Right knee should be bent at right angle (90 degrees) with right foot (floor). Toes should point out for about 45 degrees.
  • Left leg is stretched back, the left foot pressing the ground with the toes.
  • Inhale.
  • Bring elbows to the floor such that forearms are placed flat, pressing on the ground. Spread palms out on the floor.
  • See that head is placed in a neutral and relaxed position.
  • Keep head straight without arching upwards or downwards. Keep spine straight. Don’t let chest drop to the floor.
  • Exhale. Press into your left heel. This will help your hips not to sag towards the floor.
  • Stay in this pose for 5 deep, full breaths.

Release from the asana

Advanced variation

Flying Lizard Pose is a good advanced variation for the lizard pose. It is an arm balance.

  • Start with downward facing dog pose
  • Exhale.
  • Step forward with right foot
  • Exhale
  • Move the right arm behind right leg placing palm on the floor next to the right foot.
  • Snuggle your right arm underneath front thigh. Top of your hamstrings close to the hip now rests almost on right shoulder.
  • Inhale.
  • Lift your left foot off the floor.
  • Stay there for a few deep breaths. Focus and find balance.
  • Exhale and shift forward. Lift right foot off the floor.
  • Now your body weight is only on the hands. Keep yourself balanced here for few deep breaths and keep your feet flexed.
  • Exhale.
  • Release from the pose gradually.

Another variation is twisted lizard pose.
Read – Bakasana – Crane / Crow Pose, How to do, Benefits, Ayurveda Details

Health Benefits of Utthan Pristhasana

  • Stretches and strengthens hamstrings, hip flexors and quadriceps and enables to maintain a full range of motion, tone up these muscle groups  
  • Strengthens inner thighs and leg muscles
  • It gives a gentle and deep hip opening stretch, gives good stretch to the inner and outer hips, improves hip flexibility  
  • Relaxes and improves the flexibility of hip muscles, removes tightness and stiffness in hip muscles
  • Tones up gluteal muscles and also strengthens them. These muscles help you in walking, running, stand upright and extending your thighs.
  • It makes the quadriceps and hamstrings strong and tight and hence tones up the entire leg. Therefore it is a good exercise for a sports person. It strengthens shoulder and chest muscles and hence good for swimmers.
  • It stretches and tones up the body.
  • Strengthens the groins
  • Alleviates lower back pain and sciatica
  • Tones up shoulder and chest, makes deltoid stronger, cuts down on excessive fat accumulated in this area,
  • Prevents dislocation of joint especially if you are prone to get one while carrying heavy weights
  • Makes abdominal muscles tighter. This in turn tones up belly by removing excessive belly fat.
  • Improves flexibility and balance by strengthening hips and hamstrings
  • Boosts metabolism
  • Calms mind, reduces stress, releases deep seated negative emotions and enables improving focus
  • Promotes creativity
  • Promotes activation of pelvis and lower abdomen
  • Benefits proper functioning of reproductive health
  • Prepares you for deeper hip openers such as Eka Pada Rajakapotasana and Hanumanasana – monkey pose

Related Asanas

Adho Mukha Shvanasana – Downward facing dog pose

Preparatory Poses

  • Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana – Lunge Pose
  • Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana Vinyasa – Runners lunge pose flow
  • Tadasana – Mountain Pose
  • Vasishtasana – Side Plank Pose

Follow up poses

  • Kapotasana – Pigeon pose
  • Utkatasana – Chair Pose
  • Eka Pada Rajakapotasana – One Legged King Pigeon Pose
  • Parivrtta Janu Shirsasana – Revolved Head to Knee Pose
  • Eka Pada Setu Bandha Sarvangasana – One legged bridge pose
  • Hanuman Asana – Monkey Pose

Modifications and Variations

Modifications and variations help you if flexibility with your hips and range of motion therein are limited.

Bring left knee to the mat instead of keeping left leg totally stretched after bringing your right leg forward in the pose. Alternatively, start with knee down and then gradually lift it up in the pose if it is comfortable doing so with practice. Keep the hips in level with shoulders.

Try using some props for support if you have tight hips. You may use a block underneath your forearms. You may also use a rolled up towel or mat beneath your back knee.

If you are not comfortable with blocks beneath your forearms even after giving it a try, stay on palms with arms straight.

Time spent in this pose

Stay in the final position for 30-60 seconds while breathing deeply. With practice you may gradually increase the time of the pose.

Watch this video to follow the method of doing Uttana Pristhasana
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gyS68CiPNcY

Impact on Chakras

Uttana Pristhasana is one of the best poses to activate Swadishtana Chakra i.e. sacral chakra which is linked with confidence, survival instinct, creativity and feeling of generosity.
Read – Chakra – Kundalini: Introduction, Meaning, Types, Location, Ayurveda View

Contraindications, Precautions

Patients suffering from below mentioned conditions should avoid doing Uttana Pristhasana –

  • Sciatica
  • Low back problems
  • Hip or knee injury
  • Weak or dislocated shoulders
  • Shoulder and forearm injuries
  • Low back injuries
  • Severe low back ache
  • Wrist or hand surgery
  • Recovering from surgery involving your neck, knees, feet, hips, arms or hands
  • Instability or weakness in your hands, wrists, forearms or shoulders

Note:

Pregnant women may avoid doing this pose. You may take up this pose in your prenatal stage with the help of a Yoga teacher.
Read – Low Back Pain – Ayurveda View Point And Treatment

Impact of Uttana Pristhasana on doshas and tissues

Impact on Doshas – Uttana Pristhasana boosts metabolism and hence it balances samana vata, vyana vata and pachaka pitta. It calms mind, removes negative emotions and relieves stress and hence is useful for balancing prana vata, sadhaka pitta and tarpaka kapha and their inter-related axis. It is good for reproductive health and hence balances apana vata.

Impact on tissues – Since this pose stretches and strengthens the muscles and improves the flexibility of the muscles and joints of the body, it is beneficial for the muscle health and also for the channels carrying muscle tissue. It also will help in reduction of fat tissue. Therefore it is beneficial for balancing fat tissue and also for fat carrying channels.
Click to Consult Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ayu)

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