This June we celebrate the Winter Solstice, the shortest day and longest night of 2017. The Winter Solstice is an opportunity to set our goals and intentions for the coming months of warmer weather. Before we embark on the next stage of our year, we can use our yoga practice to let go of negative feelings and to create space for new ideas.
In yogic tradition, our hips are the storage grounds for our emotions. The practice of releasing tension in our hips allows us to let go of thoughts and feelings that are no longer serving us, while making room for new energy to flow. This month’s Zamasana can help us do just that.
Utthan Pristhasana, also known as Lizard Pose, is a deep hip opener that strengthens the inner hamstrings and groin. As well as stretching through the hips and hip flexors, Lizard Pose can help relieve tension through the chest, neck, and shoulders.
How to practice Utthan Pristhasana
1. Start in Downward Facing Dog. Raise the right leg high, before stepping the right foot between your hands.
2. Heel-toe your right foot toward the right edge of your mat. Your foot should be a little wider than shoulder-distance. Bring your right hand to the inside of your right leg.
3. Allow your hips to be heavy, so they sink down toward the mat. Keep the right knee hugging into the mid-line of your body.
4. Avoid collapsing through the chest and dropping the head. Instead, keep the head, neck and spine aligned by lifting the chin very slightly. Draw the shoulder blades together and down.
5. For a more active version of Utthan Pristhasana, keep the left knee lifted and left leg engaged. For a more restorative or yin version, drop the back knee onto the mat. You might like a blanket under the knee for added comfort.
6. As you begin to open through the hips, you may like to rest your forearms on the mat, a block, or a bolster.
7. Hold for up to 5 minutes before stepping back into Downward Dog and repeating on the other side.