What is Malasana?
Also known as the Yogi’s squat, Malasana is impactful for opening up the hips and groin region. It releases tightness from the hips, stretching and strengthening the muscles. Malasana is also called the Garland pose. As one progresses, you can also try deep variations, twists and walking in the squat to enable a deep stretch. Malasana is powerful in enhancing mobility and flexibility.
Position type: Sitting
Posture type: Low squat
Ideal for: Flexibility and mobility
Targets: Hips, groin, quadriceps and ankles
Pose level: Beginner
How to prepare for Malasana?
The garland pose itself is a beginner-level posture and is helpful in stretching tight hamstrings and quadriceps before practicing intense hip-opening poses. The following can be practiced as warm-ups as well to prepare for Malasana.
Accessing Malasana becomes easier if you loosen up tight hamstrings. Practice the downward-facing dog pose, standing forward fold, high lunge, low lunge, gate pose, bound angle pose, bow pose and pigeon pose regularly to stretch and improve flexibility in the hip region.
Improve balance to hold the garland pose with stability and for a longer period of time. Postures such as the standing forward fold, low lunge, high lunge, tree pose, gate pose and eagle pose are helpful in building balance.
How to do Malasana
Getting in the posture
- Stand on the mat with your feet about shoulder width apart.
- Bend your knees, bring your buttocks towards the floor into a squat.
- Place your arms inside your knees and bend the elbows, pushing the legs apart and bringing the palms together in Namaste Mudra.
Getting out of the posture
- You can either sit down on the mat or directly stand up again coming out of the squat.
- If sitting down, sit in Dandasana, the Staff pose and shake the legs for a minute. If standing up, you can simply stand in Tadasana or shake the legs a little.
Key alignments in the Garland Pose
Keep the back straight and chest open. Ensure you press the upper arms into the thighs and thighs into the upper arms to keep them engaged. There is a tendency for the feet to point outwards and that’s okay. With practice, you can keep them pointing straight. The shoulders should remain away from the ears.
What are the benefits of Malasana?
Malasana is effective in opening up the hips and groin region. The posture stretches and strengthens the feet and ankles, while also opening up the chest region. Malasana connects one to the earth element, and is thus, balancing and grounding. It allows us to stay in the present, be calm and comfortable. It counters the tightness effect that occurs due to hours spent sitting on a chair. Malasana is also helpful for digestion and women’s health.
What are the contraindications of Malasana?
If you have knee pain or lower back pain or injury, avoid Malasana. If you have any hip, groin, ankle or leg injury too, avoid the pose. Come down into the squat gently, avoiding any jerky or forceful movements. Avoid pushing your body into a deeper squat than what is comfortable.
Variations of the Garland pose
- You can place a block under the buttocks to support the body when you come into the squat. Over time, you can practice without any support and try to come lower too.
- Practice with a wall or chair support if you have difficulty balancing in Malasana. You can face a wall or chair and place your hand on it or place the back against it too.
- You can also place a blanket under your heels so you do not feel excessive pressure on the heels.
- If your feet are parallel, bring them closer together. You can also release the support of your elbows inside the knees and maintain the separation of the knees. Ensure the spine remains long and straight.
- When the hands are in Namaste Mudra, you can place a block or book between the palms, taking the thighs wider apart for a deeper stretch.
- You can also try other variations such as twisting in Malasana and walking in Malasana.
Advice for beginners
In the beginning take the support of a block or wall as required. With practice,you will be able to balance better. When squatting, the heels have a tendency to come up. For better balance, place a folded blanket under your heels.
- Pay close attention to any sensation in the lower back, hips and legs. If you feel any discomfort, immediately release the pose and relax.
- The garland pose is a great way to release stress accumulated in the back, hips and legs. Even if you’re doing it with props and support, the impact felt from the stress release is the same.
Learn how to practice Malasana the right way, with modification and props, from an experienced teacher LIVE on Shvasa.