Pose of the Week: Utthan Pristhasana

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Utthan Pristhasana, also known as lizard pose, is a deep hip opener and lunge variation often practiced once the body is fully warmed up. This pose helps to strengthen your leg muscles and improves flexibility in the hips and groin. I like to start by placing a block under my forearms and gradually come down to the mat working with my breath to deepen the stretch. I have tight hips from running and cycling so this is both a welcome and dreaded pose.

Getting into the pose: Starting from lunge pose, place your hands on the inside of your left foot. Gradually sink your hips forward and down possibly lowering your forearms to the mat. Shift your weight into the outer edge of the left foot to ease the hip open. Maintain a long spine and open chest. Placing a block under the forearms is a great option if flexibility is restricted.

Alignment cues: Extend the heart forward, lengthen the spine and draw the shoulder blades together to avoid any rounding in the back. Use your block for your forearms if they do not rest comfortably on the mat. Flex the left foot to protect the ankle and knee. Curl the back toes under and lift the back knee for a deeper stretch. Listen to your body and breathe.

Benefits:

  • Opens the hips, hamstrings, groins and hip flexors

  • Strengthens the inner thigh muscles on the front legs

  • Opens and releases the chest, shoulders and neck

  • Prepares the body for deeper hip openers