Dragon pose is a variation of a lunge pose but one that targets the hips more. In a vinyasa style class, it’s known as lizard pose or low lizard pose when the back knee is down. The name dragon pose is used in reference to the Yin posture, which is when the same pose is held for long periods of time.
Lizard pose is a pose used in yin because of how restorative and useful it is to relax. It’s a grounding pose that helps a person settle down and gently open the hip and groin area.
The basics of Dragon Pose
Dragon pose, which is known in Sanskrit as Utthan Pristhasana, is a calming pose that targets the hip and groin area. Although it’s a relaxing posture, it still gives an extreme stretch. Holding this pose allows the hip to open and deeper flexibility to be achieved. Therefore, repetitively adding this pose to a yoga practice would increase the range that the hips can go.
Any person can do this pose and it’s often used in more beginner-level classes. There are variations of it that allow the more advanced students to go further in the pose but in general, it’s a beginner pose. It’s low to the ground and doesn’t complicated shape. It’s quite similar to a low lunge, which makes it a pose that almost anyone can hold and practice.
The benefits of practicing dragon pose
Dragon pose is an easy one that can be done at any time. It isn’t difficult to quickly move into this pose when needing a good stretch. That’s what makes this pose so great, it gives an amazing stretch to the hips, groin, hamstrings, and quadriceps with little to no effort required to hold the pose. Staying in the pose is more comfortable than holding most other poses, which is what makes it so restorative.
It’s a good pose to use when trying to relax, slow down the breath and the body, and work on flexibility. Dragon pose is commonly used to build flexibility in the hip and hamstring for all levels of yogis. It has also been known to alleviate back pain and sciatica as it takes no load on the back to hold and allows the back to relax.
How to do dragon pose
Step by step instructions to doing dragon pose
- Begin a tabletop position with hands stacked under shoulders and knees stacked under hips. Maintain a straight spine.
- From there slowly move your foot (begin with right foot) and step it right outside the corresponding hand.
- Move the foot forward until the knee is stacked over the ankle. Try to slide the back leg as far back as you can until you feel a deep stretch.
- Keep both hands placed down on the inside of the front foot. If the flexibility is there, you can release your forearms down to where your hands were and hold them there. Alternatively, you can get a block to place your forehead on and allow the arms to hang heavy.
- If there’s any pain in the back knee, place a blanket or towel underneath it for more support.
- Hold the pose for around 5-10 breaths. Focus on the breath and relax into the pose.
- To come out, slowly move the leg back to a tabletop pose and repeat on the other side.
Common mistakes that are made when doing dragon pose
People often try to force themselves into the pose to the point that they’re using their hands to fight the floor. It should be an easy pose to hold and not an uncomfortable one. People also forget to stack the knee over the ankle, the thigh and shin should be at a 90-degree angle for maximum comfort.
The most important thing people mistake is listening to other people or watching how deep others go and trying to get there too. Listening to your own body will always be beneficial in any yoga pose and class. Never force yourself into a pose, especially if it doesn’t feel good.
Tips for beginners’ doing dragon pose
Beginners should use a towel or blanket on the mat before doing the pose as they wouldn’t be used to putting weight on their knees all the time. An additional blanket or block can be used to allow the hands to be lifted higher and relax more. If the pose feels too deep when folding, the person can remain upright with hands placed on thighs for support. In this variation, it’s important to keep the spine long and lengthen out of the lower back.
Another important thing to remember as a beginner is to take it slow and practice learning your limits. Listen to your body and don’t push yourself into the pose. When first trying this pose hold it for shorter increments and work your way up into longer holds.
This pose shouldn’t be done if a person has any kind of injury, especially a hip, hamstring, groin, or quadricep injury. These people should only attempt this pose once it’s been approved by a doctor or physician. If there is any pain felt whilst in the pose, then the person should back off and try a gentler pose. No pain should be felt when holding dragon pose, it’s a low effort pose that should bring ease.
Variations of dragon pose
In a yin class, and for those that have the flexibility for it, the variation of bringing your forearms to the floor and letting the head hang heavy is perfect. It brings a deep stretch and relaxation. Another alternative is to keep one forearm on the floor and reach for the back foot with the opposite arm for a dragon pose quad stretch. This variation keeps in the hip and groin stretch whilst upping the quad stretch.
A way to make this hip stretch deeper is to come onto the edge of the front foot and allow the knee to fall slightly to the side. To make it even deeper, the same hand as the front leg can come onto the knee and push it further out. This makes for an intense hip stretch. A variation to make this pose easier would be to stay more upright in the pose and bring both legs closer into the midline. There is still a good stretch that happens but it’s not as deep and allows a person to slowly increase flexibility over time.