Twisted Lizard

written by
Joel Runyon
last updated
October 18, 2021

If you have ever taken a yoga class before, or done a yoga routine from the comfort of your own home, chances are you are familiar with the lizard pose. The lizard pose is a deep stretch for the hips and legs. While the lizard pose is a great stretch on its own, you can take it another step further and incorporate a twist. This variation, perhaps unsurprisingly, is called the Twisted Lizard and it is a move with a host of benefits. 

Not only is the twisted lizard pose great for your hips, but your groins, quadricep muscles, and hamstrings will benefit as well. This stretch really hits the big, important muscles in your legs. By incorporating a twist, you get the added benefit of a stretch through the spine and into the shoulders and arms. That being said, it can be quite intense, especially if you have limited mobility or range of motion. 

In this article, we’ll cover how exactly to safely perform this stretch. We will also cover the benefits of incorporating the twisted lizard into your daily or weekly routine. Lastly, we will be sure to include modifications. If you find that this stretch is a little too deep for your needs, we’ll give you other options to complete it at your ability level and reap the benefits of this hip opening stretch. 

What is the Twisted Lizard Pose? 

First and foremost, the lizard pose is a big hip-opening stretch that comes from the practice of yoga. While this pose originated in yoga, you definitely don’t have to be a yoga practitioner to incorporate it into your stretching routine. In fact, athletes and Average Joe’s alike could benefit greatly from this stretch. 

We recommend coming into this position from a Tabletop position. Some others may have you enter this pose through downward facing dog. Either way is fine. You should choose the option that feels best and safest to you. 

In the Tabletop position, make sure your hands are placed on the floor directly under your shoulders. Your knees should also make contact with the floor directly under your hips. Keep your gaze down at the floor and your spine in a neutral position. 

Once you’ve properly set yourself up in Tabletop, bring your right foot up and place it outside of your right hand. Your knee should be directly over your ankle. Then, extend your left leg straight out behind you with your left knee raised off of the ground. 

Lastly, take your right and sweep it up to the ceiling. Allow your eyes to follow as you look up towards your raised hand. Avoid rounding through your back too much. Think about keeping a nice, flat back. Breathe deeply - especially if this is on the intense side for you. Allow gravity to help your hips sink down and open up. 

We recommend holding this pose for at least 30 seconds, but upwards of a minute or more if possible. After holding this pose for a set amount of time, gently come out of the stretch by coming onto your hands and returning to a Tabletop position. Repeat on the opposite side for the same amount of time. 

Benefits of the Twisted Lizard Pose 

We’ve already covered that this pose will help you open up your hips and improve your flexibility in this area. But this is also a great pose for toning the muscles in your lower body like your quads and hamstrings. Paired with a well-structured workout routine, this pose will help stabilize and strengthen your lower body muscles as well as increase your flexibility. 

Twisting movements are great for the health and mobility of your spine. This should feel really nice through your back muscles. Twists can also improve digestion and benefit the internal organs. If you struggle with issues related to this, it would be beneficial to incorporate twisted lizard pose - or a variation - into your stretching routine. 

Modifications for Twisted Lizard Pose  

For some, this stretch may be way too intense. On the scale of stretches, this could be considered a bit more advanced strictly because of the mobility and strength required to hold it for an extended period of time. 

Fortunately, there is a simple way to modify the twisted lizard pose to receive the benefits of the posture without going all the way into it. The worst thing you can do is try to force yourself into this posture without having the proper range of motion to do so. This will surely lead to a strain or other injury. Work within your means consistently, and before long you will build up the flexibility to move deeper into the stretch. 

An easy modification to this pose is to lower the back knee to the ground instead of keeping it elevated. If the ground feels too hard on your knee, you can pad it using a blanket or towel. Get comfortable with the traditional lizard’s pose or runner’s lunge as a way to build strength for this twisted variation. 

twisted lizard moment demo

Starting in a tabletop position, step right foot outside the right hand. The back knee stays on the floor or lifts up depending on your ability. On the inhale, draw the right hand/arm to the ceiling. Spread the fingers and reach up and out of the shoulder. The back left leg stays straight, strong and active.

written by
Joel Runyon

Joel is the founder of IMPOSSIBLE and the founder of MoveWell. Joel founded MoveWell after sustaining an injury while running an ultra marathon on every continent. Joel is writes about mobility, pain management and health and wellness overall.

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