Lizard Pose In Yoga Is A Dream For Tight Hips

This lower body-opening posture really does the most.

Originally Published: 
All the benefits of lizard pose, one of yoga's best hip-openers.
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The next time your hips feel tight, make like a lizard and lunge one leg forward for an extra deep stretch. Lizard pose is one of those yoga postures you didn’t know you needed until you give it a try. Once it’s part of your flow, though, you won’t want to let it go.

Lizard pose, or utthan pristhasana, is a low lunge that serves as the perfect hip-opener, says Mikah Horn, a certified yoga therapist, teacher, and founder of Lifelong Yoga Online. It involves stepping one leg forward as you sink down towards the floor — just like a lizard stretched on a rock.

The deep, low lunge stretches your hamstrings, groin, and hip flexors to improve your hip flexibility and mobility, Horn tells Bustle. It feels extra good if you’ve been traveling or sitting at a desk, but you can drop into it whenever you need to open up your lower body.

Lizard pose is also ideal for strengthening your legs, says Whitney Berger, a certified yoga instructor, personal trainer, founder of WhitFit NYC. Your muscles have to work hard to hold you steady in such a low lunge, which is why your arms, shoulders, glutes, and core get in on the action, too. Here’s what to know about lizard pose, straight from yoga teachers.

How To Do Lizard Pose

Here, Horn explains how to properly drop into lizard pose so you can stretch your hips.

- Start in downward-facing dog with your hands planted on your mat and your hips high.

- Step one foot forward to the front edge of your mat.

- Come into a low lunge.

- Bring both hands to the inside of your front foot.

- Drop your back knee to the ground.

- Press down into your palms and find length in your spine.

- If you can, lower onto your forearms.

- Keep the back of your neck long and in line with your spine.

- Lift your back knee and straighten your leg.

- Press actively through your back heel.

- Hold for five to 10 breaths.

- Step your front foot back and into downward dog.

- Bring your other leg forward to switch sides.

How To Modify Lizard Pose

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Since lizard pose is such a deep hip-opener, it isn’t always easy to nail on the first try, especially if you spend a lot of time seated or if you have extra-tight hips. To reduce the intensity, “try staying up on your palms instead of lowering down to your forearms,” Horn says. “You could also come up to your fingertips or put blocks underneath your hands.” This will raise your upper body and ease some of the stretch in your hips.

Another option is to drop your back knee down onto your mat. “Additionally, you could place a folded blanket underneath your knee for more support,” Horn says. To figure out what feels good, Berger also suggests gently rocking back and forth in the pose.

To go deeper into the lizard pose, add a quad stretch. “Drop your back knee to the floor, bend that knee by kicking the foot up towards your glutes, and reach around to take hold of your back foot,” Horn says. “Kick the foot into your hand and create resistance as you lift your chest.”

Lizard Pose Mistakes To Avoid

To make the most of lizard pose, try to keep your muscles engaged the entire time. “Make sure you aren’t sinking into your joints passively or collapsing into too deep of a stretch,” says Horn. “You can prevent this by pressing actively away from the floor.”

As you stretch, look back and check that your hips are squared up instead of letting one drop to the side, as that’ll take away the stretch in your hips. It’s also important to keep your back leg straight so it doesn’t put a strain on your joints, Berger says. When you nail the posture, you’ll definitely feel it — and your body will thank you.

Studies referenced:

Garcia, MG. (2021). Impact of 10-Min Daily Yoga Exercises on Physical and Mental Discomfort of Home-Office Workers. Hum Factors. doi: 10.1177/00187208211045766.


Mikah Horn, C-IAYT, E-RYT, certified yoga therapist, teacher, founder of Lifelong Yoga Online

Whitney Berger, certified yoga instructor, personal trainer, founder of WhitFit NYC

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