Asana of the Week: Utthan Pristhasana Variation

This variation on Utthan Pristhasana (Lizard Pose) is one of my favorite postures for addressing tension in the quadriceps and hip flexors.  The mild rotation of the spine opens the chest and brings the stretch high up into the psoas.

To enter the posture, come to a long, low lunge with the right foot forward.  Drop the left knee, turn the right foot out at a 30 degree angle, and plant the left hand.  Then bend the left knee and grasp the left foot with the right hand.  Roll the right shoulder back and turn the gaze up toward the sky as you rotate the spine.  Stay for 5-10 breaths and repeat with the left foot forward.

Other side
In my experience, there are two ways to practice this posture:  press the foot into the hand to activate the quads in eccentric contraction (ala Laghu Vajrasana), or pull the foot toward the buttocks for more lengthening of the muscles, particularly higher up the leg near the attachments (ala Bhekasana).  Take caution with the back knee in either case, and be sure that your front knee is tracking with the toes.


  1. Do you have any thoughts on the rotation of the hand holding the back foot? I generally have cued (and believe that my teachers have also suggested) holding the pinkie side of the foot so as to maintain an open shoulder. I see you're holding the inside, but you've got good alignment... Just curious as to your thoughts

    1. Hi Jennifer,

      Holding onto the outer edge of the foot does open the shoulder and chest, but in my own body it also creates additional contraction of up the upper back. There's nothing wrong with that, it's just not what I look for in this particular posture. Personally, I find holding the inner edge of the foot to be a more neutral rotation of the shoulder, with allows me to extend the thoracic spine a little more.

      That being said, if you're going to press the foot toward the glute to deepen the stretch, I think an external rotation (holding the pinkie edge) is more appropriate. Thanks for the question!