The hips are the center of the body, connecting the upper body and the legs. Ancient yogis name this location in our bodies as the resting place of kundalini-shakti energy. When our hips are strong, balanced and flexible, they are the foundation for a yoga practice and a life that hold those same qualities.
Lizard Pose or Utthan Pristhasana in Sanskrit, comes from the words Utthan meaning “stretching out” and Pristha meaning “back of the body.” An alternate translation of Pristha is “page of a book,” an appropriate description as we hold many of our emotions in our hips. Lizard pose opens the hips and hamstrings while strengthening the inner thigh muscles of the front leg. The hips store an abundance of emotions so this stretch not only helps the muscles but also helps to release that stored energy allowing for healing and strength. Tight hamstrings are an indication of feeling stuck in our lives so this pose also helps us take on new strides and abound to new wonderful moments in our yoga journey.
How to do Lizard Pose
Begin in Downward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana), step your right foot forward between your hands. Heel-toe your foot towards the edge of your mat, so that your foot is slightly wider than your shoulders.
Let your hips grow heavy, so that they settle forward and down. Begin to walk your hands forwards until you are able to come down on to your forearms (You may place your forearms on the ground, or on a block). Either rest your hands palms facing down on the mat (as seen in the picture), or bring your hands together in prayer position.
Extend your heart forward, lengthening the spine. Try to soften the heart and draw the shoulder blades together, taking heed not to round your back.
Keep your right knee hugging towards your midline to get into the inner hip and thigh area of your right leg. You can keep your left knee lifted with your leg active, or for a more restorative version, you can lower your left knee (as seen in the picture).
Don’t worry if the forearms can’t come down onto the mat just yet. Work on softening into the hips as much as possible, and try placing a block underneath the elbows as you begin to find more openness in your hips. For those with sensitive knees, place some padding underneath the knee such as a rolled up yoga towel or fold your yoga mat over for extra cushion for the knee. Repeat other side (if needed).
There’s a tendency to drop the head and collapse through the chest in Lizard Pose. Keeping the head and neck aligned with the spine by lifting the chin slightly and sending the gaze forward allows for more extension along the body (rather than contraction).
Caution: Those suffering from hip, groin or knee injuries should avoid this pose. Also, those who have had any recent surgery of the abdomen, thorax, hips or legs should not attempt this pose.
Acroyoga has become one of the fastest fitness and acrobatic trends for many reasons. From a fitness perspective, it changes your workout by using your muscles in ways you don’t use in everyday activities or in a regular yoga class. As a “base”, you will get a great workout for your quads, calves and toes when working with beginner poses and movements by learning how to push through your toes and legs to support another person. As a “flyer”, you will learn how to stay lifted and tight by engaging muscles while holding various poses. As your skills progress, they become more challenging, it is a full-body workout from head to toe.
Here are some common questions and concerns:
Is AcroYoga, yoga?
AcroYoga is not typical yoga. It is a whole new world of connection, awareness and possibility. The definition as described from AcroYoga.org is “AcroYoga blends the wisdom of yoga, the dynamic power of acrobatics and the loving kindness of healing arts. These three lineages form the foundation of a practice that cultivates trust, playfulness and community.” For many people it’s a chance to explore movements in a new way.
Will I get hurt?
In Acro you are taught to practice new skills with a spotter. This person is an extra set of eyes and hands. Their responsibility is to watch the movements, be prepared to catch the flyer and help bring the pose down safely should a fall occur. In a class setting teachers will often teach the safest way to fall out of a pose. Learning an exit strategy gives confidence to practice poses when there is no spotter around. When you first start practicing you may have some soreness or even some bruises. Just like any activity where you have to move your body in a new way your body will take some time to adapt. This is where a beginner class or workshop helps.
I’m not strong enough to lift someone.
In AcroYoga, you stack our bones rather than using muscle energy to lift up the flyers. When you are stacked the poses are grounded and the flyers can feel secure to move around. It may take a few tries to find this pace but it’s always best to practice with what feels good and what doesn’t. Your spotter also gives cues as to where you are in space, helping you find your sweet spot.
What’s the point of this?
If you are looking for a new way to gain strength, flexibility and meet some new people this is the place for you. Students go from zero body awareness to moving through poses with ease. AcroYoga is also a great way to meet new people, deepen your connection with partners, and cultivate trust.
How can I get involved?
The best way is to look online for workshops and classes in your area. It is best to get started learning from someone who can teach you proper technique, both for safety and ease of practice. AcroYoga is gaining popularity fast and there are many teachers willing to share their knowledge with you.
As much as AcroYoga may look intimidating and challenging, ANYONE and EVERYONE has the ability to learn it with ease. AcroYoga is a bright and exciting practice that integrates one’s individual yoga practice, partnership through dynamic acrobatics and healing through therapeutic bodywork.
Caution: If you are pregnant or have any kind of medical problem or injuries, or have had any injuries or problems in the past, or any other condition that may be adversely affected by exercise, such as neck or back problems, high blood pressure, etc., please consult your doctor before practicing acroyoga to determine whether and how you can practice safely.
The word meditation refers to a range of techniques which control your thoughts, in order to strengthen your mind and improve your physical health. In order understand the misconceptions about meditation, and its numerous benefits, one has to understand how it works. There are different types of meditation techniques, each of which differ slightly from each other,, and have certain benefits of their own. Even though the techniques work on the mind of the person, the beneficial effects can be seen in the mind as well as the body.
How Meditation Works
A self-directed practice of relaxing the mind and body, meditation has been in practice for a long time. It works on a single principle that the mind is the key to overall health, therefore keeping the mind in control can ensure your overall well-being. While some forms of meditation involve focusing on a particular subject, others involve simple relaxation and allow the mind to do whatever it wants, without conscious efforts. While meditating, it’s important to have some degree of controlled breathing. Meditation teachers well versed with the concept suggest that meditation is not about finding solutions to a particular problem, but about changing our attitude towards them. The effects of meditation tend to differ from one individual to another. Below the effects оf meditation on our mind and body.
Effects on the Brain
Due to the changes in the breathing pattern, the supply of oxygen to the brain is reduced by 20 percent. The state of resting is something which we don’t attain when we sleep, as our brain continues to work when we are sleeping. Scientific studies have also revealed that meditating regularly can alter the way your brain is wired, and these alterations in turn helps to deal with a wide array of health problems, including stress and insomnia.
Effects on the Body
Meditation tends to decrease the activity of the nervous system, as the supply of oxygen is reduced. Many people want to know how how meditation reduces stress symptoms or how it helps with depression. These health problems are caused primarily by underlying factors associated with our mind. When we successfully treat these factors with the help of the meditation techniques for stress or depression, it indirectly helps in getting rid of the symptoms of these ailments. Regular meditation helps in curing a range of ailments, including insomnia, anxiety, etc. In fact, some recent studies even claim that this relaxation technique can help in keeping various ailments, including certain types of cancers, at bay.
These scientific explanations on the effects of meditation on our mind and body have helped in changing the popular belief that meditation is only associated with religion and spirituality. The scientifically backed health benefits of the practice have even prompted several medical practitioners to advise their patients to practice various techniques of meditation to maintain overall health. With all these benefits, meditation is undoubtedly one of the most effective tool of well-being - a necessity for us all in this fast paced world.
Note: The above article is for educational purposes only and should not take the place of your healthcare provider. If you or someone you know suffers from depression, insomnia, or any other ailments, seek the advice of a physician.
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