In India, garlands of flowers or beads are often used as ritual offerings and altar decoration. Mala beads, sometimes called prayer beads, are can be used as an anchor to help you focus during meditation. In Sanskrit, mala is translated as “garland” (asana as “seat” or “posture”). Malasana gets its name because it helps prepare the body for long periods of seated meditation. In this step-by-step guide, we’ll explain what malasana is plus why you might want to add garland pose to your yoga practice.
What is Malasana?
Malasana is a type of squat pose you might also hear referred to as “wide squat” or “frog pose” (another hip-opening variation of “frog pose” is practiced on the knees, though it may not be suitable for those with sensitive knee joints). Classified as a standing yoga pose, this hip-opening yoga posture prepares yogis for lunges, arm-balancing crow pose (bakasana), and more. Meanwhile, forward bends that stretch the thighs and hamstrings are ideal counter stretches.
Benefits of Malasana
Hip flexibility is a common issue for many people today. Sitting for long periods can cause poor posture and back pain. A hip-opening yoga posture, garland pose helps lengthen and open the hips, creating more mobility for daily activities. Meanwhile, malasana stretches the inner thighs, groin, hips, ankles, and torso, while toning the abdominal muscles. It may improve the function of the colon to help with elimination. This pose also increases circulation and blood flow in the pelvis, which can help regulate sexual energy. Garland pose improves balance, concentration, and focus. Often offered in prenatal yoga practices, malasana is particularly beneficial for women who are pregnant, as it can aid in childbirth.
How to Do Garland Pose
- Begin by standing in mountain pose (tadasana). Step your feet out about hip-width distance.
- Bend your knees and lower your hips, coming into a deep squat. Separate your thighs so they are slightly wider than your torso, keeping your feet as close together as possible.
- Drop your torso slightly forward and bring your upper arms to the inside of your knees. Press your elbows along the inside of your knees, and bring your palms together in prayer position (anjali mudra). Try bringing your hands to your heart center and your forearms parallel to the floor.
- Lift and lengthen your torso, keeping your spine straight and shoulders relaxed. Shift your weight slightly into your heels.
Hold for five breaths. To release, bring your fingertips to the floor. Then, slowly straighten your legs and come into a standing forward fold (uttanasana).
Variations of Garland Pose
You may find you’d like to deepen or lighten the pose. Try these simple changes to find a yoga pose modification that works best for you:
- If your heels don’t come to the floor, place a yoga prop, such as a firm folded blanket or rolled yoga mat, underneath them.
- Women who are pregnant and/or those who need help balancing might try:
- Resting both hands on the back of a chair
- Resting one hand along an adjacent wall
- Doing the pose with the back against a wall
- For more of a challenge, try bringing your feet closer together or draping the torso between the legs:
- Reach both arms forward, then bend the elbows and bring the shins into the armpits.
- Extend the arms behind your body, and clasp the heels.
- Drop the forehead to the mat.
Contraindications of Malasana
Do not practice this pose if you have a recent or chronic low back or knee injury. Additional cautions: always work within your personal range of limits and abilities. If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga and let your yoga teacher know.
Practicing malasana can be a great way to challenge your balance and loosen tight hips. It might be difficult at first, but with practice, your muscles can lengthen, and squatting will become easier. Keep the following tips in mind when practicing garland pose:
- Avoid jerking, pulling, pushing, or forcing any movement in this pose. Let your movements be slow and smooth.
- Bouncing your hips up and down can strain your knees and hip flexors.
- Keep shifting your weight back into your heels.
- Lengthen the front of your torso, and keep your spine long, rather than rounded.
Tight hips can be limiting, but with regular stretching, they will loosen, improving your body’s range of motion and enhancing your flexibility. Practice hip-opening yoga poses like malasana every day, and be sure to listen to your body to discern how to modify accordingly. Every day can feel different.
How do you like to practice garland pose? Let us know in the comments below!
By Practyce Team
June 14, 2022