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Malasana or Squat or Garland Pose

Benefits, Contraindications, Tips and How to Do

English Name(s)
Squat Pose, Garland Pose
Sanskrit
मालासन / Malasana
Pronunciation
ma-LAH-suh-nuh
Meaning
“Malasana” (मालासन) means “Mala” (माला), (“garland)”
“Asana” (आसन) means “pose” or “posture.”

Malasana at a Glance

Malasana, a yoga pose also called Garland Pose or Yoga Squat, is a fundamental yoga posture that combines deep squat squats and meditative poses. Malasana is also practiced as a regular squat pose, Upaveshasana, in which palms are folded together in front of the chest with feet wide apart. It can also be used as a resting position.

Benefits:

  • Malasana opens the hips, adductors, groins, and inner thighs.
  • Helps to strengthen the lower back and improve flexibility with improved posture.
  • The pose is good for pregnant women as it prepares the pelvic region for childbirth.

Who can do it?

People with good hip and ankle flexibility and looking to improve hip mobility and flexibility can practice Malasana.

Who should not do it?

Individuals with knee or ankle injuries, limited hip flexibility or experience discomfort in the hips, severe lower back problems, and balance issues should avoid or modify the pose.

Introduction

It resembles the shape of a garland. Hence, it is named the Garland Pose. It involves squatting down with feet on the floor and hips wide apart, allowing the body to descend the ground. The hands can be brought together in a prayer position (Namaste) at the heart center, thus giving a spiritual and meditative aspect to the individual.  

Chakra

Malasana stimulates the Swadhisthana Chakra (sacral chakra). The deep squat in Malasana opens up the hips and pelvic area, which is the physical location of the Swadhisthana chakra (associated with creativity, sensuality, emotions, and the element of water). It helps to govern our ability to connect with our feelings, embrace change, and work on our passion. By practicing this pose, people can stimulate and unblock energy in this area.

 Philosophy

  • The practice of Malasana encourages people to be flexible and open in both body and mind. It teaches us to adapt to different situations with ease.
  • The deep hip opening can help individuals release stored emotions and find emotional balance.
  • Creativity and passion are linked with the sacral chakra, and Malasana can inspire people to explore their creative potential.
  • In Malasana, the balance of stability and flexibility is obvious as it reflects the harmonious interplay of opposites in the sacral chakra.

Also See: Online Yoga Teacher Training

How to Do Malasana?

Follow the Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Begin by standing with your feet width apart on the mat.
  • Turn your toes slightly outward. This foot position will make it easier to squat deeply.
  • Inhale and bend the knees and lower your butt to come into the squat position.
  • While squatting down, open your knees wider than your hip width.
  • Once you attain a deep squat, bring your palms together in a prayer position (Namaste) before your chest. This gesture adds a meditative element to the pose.
  • Keep your spine as straight as possible and your shoulder relaxed and away from your ears. Your butt should move towards the floor.
  • Hold the pose for around five breaths. Exit the pose by straightening the legs slowly. A forward fold can be done after this.

What are the Benefits of Malasana?

  • Malasana helps open up the hips, groin, and lower back, improving flexibility.
  • This pose engages and strengthens various muscles, including quadriceps, hamstrings, and the lower back and core muscles.
  • The pose is good for the digestive system as it compresses the abdominal area, helping eliminate digestive issues and bloating.
  • The compression of the abdominal region may also stimulate the organs involved in detoxification, helping the body remove waste and toxins.
  • This pose is good for pregnant women as it opens the pelvic region, which is helpful during childbirth.

Health Conditions that Might Benefit from Malasana

  • Malasana helps open up the hips, groin, and lower back, improving flexibility.
  • This pose engages and strengthens various muscles, which include the quadriceps, hamstrings, and the muscles of the lower back and core.
  • The pose is good for the digestive system as it compresses the abdominal area, helping eliminate digestive issues and bloating.
  • The compression of the abdominal region may also stimulate the organs involved in detoxification, helping the body remove waste and toxins.
  • This pose is good for pregnant women as it opens the pelvic region, which is helpful during childbirth.
  • It is very good for people with lower back pain as it increases flexibility.
  • As the abdominal muscles compress, the pose is great for people suffering from any kind of digestive disorder as constipation.
  • The pose is excellent for menstruating and pregnant women as it opens the pelvic floor.
  • People with ankle injuries can improve flexibility in this area by practicing Malasana with props.
  • As the core muscles are engaged in the pose, it helps to increase the core strength and overall stability.
  • As Malasana stimulates the digestive organs, it helps overall detoxify the body.

Safety and Precautions

  • People with knee or ankle injuries should practice Malasana with some modification or try to avoid it.
  • People with lower back pain should consult a yoga teacher or healthcare professional for modifications or alternatives.
  • People with severe digestive disorders, such as inflammatory bowel disease, should either avoid the pose or practice with modification.
  • Avoid any jerky movement while coming to the final pose. Do not force the squat position or try to get into a deeper squat immediately. Practice slowly with patience.

Malasana and Breath

  • Stand in tadasana. Inhale and exhale, come to a squat position and lower your butt towards the floor. Keep your feet wide apart to maintain stability in the pose. Focus on the alignment of the knees.
  • Inhale and exhale. While exhaling, lower your butt and keep your palms together in a prayer position. Keep your thigh muscles and core engaged with your shoulders relaxed. Open your chest with a straight spine.
  • Hold this pose for a few deep breaths and release the pose. Inhale and exhale, and return to the starting position.

Physical Alignment Principles of Malasana

  • In this pose, there is a tendency to lean forward during the pose, so keep your back straight throughout the pose and chest open. Keep your shoulders relaxed, but do not round your shoulders.
  • Keep the distance between your feet according to your comfort level. Then, you can increase and practice the deep Malasana pose. Keep your hands involved in the pose, and your elbows should gently touch your legs. Keep your knees straight and legs firm on the ground.

Tips for Malasana

  • You can practice the pose at least three times to get the best advantage of the pose. You can practice some warm-up to open the hips for a squatting pose.
  • To maintain a good balance, use a folded blanket or yoga block under your heels. The pose can be modified.
  • Pay attention to the angle of your feet. Turning your toes slightly outward (about a 45-degree angle) can help you squat more comfortably and achieve a deeper squat.
  • Your knees should come over your toes as you squat and should not collapse inward. Engage your thigh muscles to support your knees.
  • Maintain a straight and lengthen the spine throughout the pose. Avoid rounding back.
  • Engage your core and gently press your elbows against your knees. Avoid unwanted tension in your shoulders and neck.
  • If it’s challenging to keep your palms together in the Namaste position (Anjali mudra) you can place your hands on the floor before you for balance and support and lift the spine.
  • Inhale deeply and exhale slowly throughout the pose to relax into the pose and release tension. Practice regularly to get the maximum benefits. Modify as needed.

Common Mistakes

People should not keep their hips above the knees and weight into the balls of the feet. Dropping into the pose should be comfortable. Heels should not come up while squatting. This will increase strain on the lumbar spine. Use a yoga block for better balance and stability during the pose.

Malasana and Variations

  • Begin by standing with your feet width apart on the mat.
  • Turn your toes slightly outward. This foot position will make it easier to squat deeply.
  • Inhale and bend the knees and lower your butt to come into the squat position.
  • While squatting down, open your knees wider than your hip width.
  • Once you attain a deep squat, bring your palms together in a prayer position (Namaste) before your chest. This gesture adds a meditative element to the pose.
  • Keep your spine as straight as possible and your shoulder relaxed and away from your ears. Your butt should move towards the floor.
  • Hold the pose for around five breaths. Exit the pose by straightening the legs slowly. A forward fold can be done after this.

Modification

  • You can use a yoga block under your butt for more support, then slowly try to bring your butt towards the floor during the squat. Gradually, work on your hips and ankles. You can also practice the pose with your back against the wall or the back of a chair to get the balance.
  • Begin with your feet wider apart, and perform the asana with the knees pointing outward. This variation is easy and comfortable for the practitioner.
  • After getting into the full pose, place your right hand on the ground and lift your left hand, reaching it toward the ceiling. This creates a twisting stretch, thus targeting the upper body.
  • You can lift one foot off the ground and extend it forward and the other foot placed on the floor. This variation challenges balance and flexibility.
  • Instead of keeping your hands in the Namaste position, extend your arms forward and parallel to the floor. This variation stretches the core and shoulders more intensively.
  • Lift your toes off the floor while keeping your heels on the floor. This variation challenges your balance and stretches the muscles of your inner thighs and ankles.
  • While in the asana, press your elbows against your knees and gently push your knees forward to deepen the calf stretch.

Deepen the Pose

You can bring your feet closer as you practice more with the squat position, in the garland pose, without the support of your elbows. Try to maintain the separation of the knees and keep lengthening your spine straight. Use props.

Counter-Poses

Follow-Up Poses

FAQs

Why do people drink water in Garland Pose?

When you drink water while standing, the fluid passes without any filtration and causes water impurities to settle in the bladder, which can cause damage to the kidneys. Sitting in Malasana while drinking water produce cleansing and eliminating effect.

What is the significance of Garland Pose?

Its symbol is related to the importance of accepting the cyclical nature of life. A “mala” is a string of 108 beads for chanting mantras and meditation.

Take Away

Squatting is a natural position for the body and it’s one that we should all aim to incorporate into our daily lives, especially pregnant women. This pose has so many benefits – both physical and mental. So, go ahead and give Malasana or deep squat a try. You won’t regret it.

Yoga is not just a practice; it’s a way of life. Take the first step towards a meaningful career by enrolling in our comprehensive online yoga teacher training courses. Choose from 200-Hrs Yoga Teacher Training, 300-Hrs Yoga Teacher Training, or 500-Hrs Yoga Teacher Training Programs – all crafted to help you master the art of teaching yoga. Embrace your passion, become a certified yoga instructor, and empower others to find their inner peace and strength.

Meera Watts
Meera Watts is the owner and founder of Siddhi Yoga International. She is known worldwide for her thought leadership in the wellness industry and was recognized as a Top 20 International Yoga Blogger. Her writing on holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, CureJoy, FunTimesGuide, OMtimes and other international magazines. She got the Top 100 Entrepreneur of Singapore award in 2022. Meera is a yoga teacher and therapist, though now she focuses primarily on leading Siddhi Yoga International, blogging and spending time with her family in Singapore.

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