The garland pose (Malasana) is a deep squat pose in yoga. It stretches the groins, back and ankles while promoting proper digestion. This yoga asana also helps open the groin and hip muscles and reduces stiffness that occurs from sitting too much. Additionally, it also facilitates good pelvic floor muscles.
How to perform the garland pose in yoga? Correct form and technique
- Stand upright with your legs mat-width apart.
- Lower your hips, and bend your knees towards the ground to come into a deep squat position.
- Keep your feet closer to parallel. If your toes turn out, let them turn, but don’t overturn them.
- Bring your upper arms inside your knees, and slowly bend your elbows to draw your palms together into a prayer position (Anjali Mudra).
- Keeping your hands to your heart in Anjali Mudra, allow your thumbs to touch the sternum to help keep your chest lifted.
- Continue to press your upper arms into your thighs to keep them engaged.
- Simultaneously, keep your back straight, your hips moving towards the ground and your shoulders loose and relaxed.
- Stay in the position for a few seconds.
- To come out, straighten your legs slowly.
- Repeat the pose a few times, and remember to breathe naturally.
Important beginner tips
When doing the garland pose, consider the following tips to make this asana easier and more convenient:
- If you have difficulty squatting, sit on the edge of a chair with your heels on the floor ahead of your knees and thighs, creating a right angle to your upper body. To squat, lean your torso between your thighs.
- For added support, you may also keep a few blocks under your hips; over time, try to reduce the height of the blocks.
- If you have problems balancing your body, you may try doing it with your back against a wall or the back of a sturdy chair so that you can reach out for support.
- If you're a beginner, you may start with using different props for support so that the movement is easy and not painful. Gradually, remove the additional support by lowering the props. That can take a long time, but it will definitely improve your long-term mobility and prevent pain and injuries.
- If you find it difficult to keep your heels on the floor, place a folded blanket under your heels for cushioning.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
To make the most of the garland pose and prevent pain and discomfort, avoid these mistakes:
Keeping your hips above the knees
When doing the garland pose, there can be a tendency to keep your hips above your knees and your weight on the balls of your feet.
However, this position limits your squatting intensity and does not allow your body to properly drop into the squat pose. To avoid that, sit on a yoga block or two, and try to maintain your balance.
Heels lifting off the floor
Your heels may lift off the floor when you squat, which can put more pressure forward instead of pushing you down. To avoid that, keep a folded blanket under your heels for extra cushioning and support.
Benefits of practicing Garland pose (Malasana) in yoga
One of the primary benefits of the garland pose is that it opens the groins and hips while stretching and strengthening the ankles and feet. This yoga pose is also an ideal way to counter the stiffness of the back and hips that comes from sitting for too long. Some other benefits of Malasana include:
- Calms the body and mind
- Helps release wastes and toxins from the body
- Improves overall posture
- Strengthens and tightens the abdominal muscles
- Promotes gut health and digestion
- Improves metabolism
- Strengthens and stretches the hamstrings, ankles, neck and back.
Although it's an effective hip opener, the garland pose in yoga should be avoided if you have lower back or knee injuries. You should also avoid jerky movements and coming into a squat position forcefully.
Do not push your body into a deeper squat if you are not flexible enough, as that can strain your muscles and cause pain. If you experience any pain or discomfort, immediately come out of the pose.