Lizard Lunge is a great hip opener that can be modified for all yogis~whether you need to increase accessibility or increase the challenge!

Move-It Monday~Yoga Pose: Lizard Lunge

Difficulty level: Easy to Medium

Benefits

  • Stretches and opens the hip flexors, quadriceps and hamstrings
  • Encourages a full range of motion in the hips

Begin in Down Dog.  As you press your hands into the mat, draw your arms energetically towards each other bringing the energy up the arms to your shoulders.  Firm your shoulder blades on your back, exhale and draw your chest towards your thighs.  Lift your sit bones high and on the next exhale, send the energy down your legs, rooting your feet into the mat.  Inhale and lift your right leg into Three Legged Dog.

Moving behind the breath, exhale and draw your right foot to the outside of your right hand on your mat.  Place the foot forward enough that your shoulder and knee line up, and your fingers and toes are in line.  Walk your right foot slightly further off the side of your mat (to give your hips room to descend), then turn your toes away from your mat at about a 45 degree angle.  If your back arches or there is strain across the shoulders, place a block under each hand to elevate the ground, allowing a neutral spine.  Press the back of the left thigh up as you press through the left heel to straighten your leg.  Inhale, lift your gaze slightly past your mat in front of you.

After  3 – 5 breaths, draw your left knee to the mat, lengthening through the toes.  Keep your toenails pressed into the mat and the heel pointed to the sky to keep the leg engaged.  Resist the urge to roll to the left to allow the leg to reach the floor, rather keeping your hips as square as possible with the mat.  If this introduces too much stress in the body, place a block or bolster under the left thigh to keep the hips as level as possible.

If you wish to move more deeply into this pose (it can be pretty intense!), lower to your forearms either on top of blocks or on the mat.  Hold this for 3 – 5 breaths.

Finally, if desired, rotate the blocks to their lowest level under your forearms, or remove the blocks altogether.  Stack your forearms on top of each other and allow your forehead to rest on your stacked hands.  Remember to keep the hips as level as possible and to only move to the depth of the pose that serves your hips.

Hold your final version of the pose an additional 3 – 5 breaths, then gently unwind the pose and press your right leg back to a plank position.  Exhale and press back to Down Dog.

Tips:

Lizard Lunge (or Utthan Pristhanasana) is a big hip opener!  Breathe deeply and move slowly as you progress through the pose.  Additionally, try the different variations above with props and without to feel the difference in your body.  Know that some days you will enjoy the use of props and others you will not; be wise enough to allow different props and variations to serve your body each time you come to your mat.