I’ll be honest. I’ve never lowered into Malasana and thought, “You know what would make this better? Spinal rotation.” Yet, someone created Parivrtta Malasana, which loosely translates to Rotated Squat (or Garland) pose.
Although this is a challenging pose, there are many benefits to practicing it. First, you have all the benefits that you receive from Malasana. You open your hips and get to open the SI joint some when you rotate your pelvis to neutral. Plus, there is leg strengthening and stretching as you lower toward the ground (and hold), then return to standing.
With the added rotation, you add all the benefits of rotation. Any time you twist, you reset the central nervous system, massage your internal organs, and help balance the spinal muscles.
For me, this is one of the most challenging yoga poses. Here’s how to correctly practice this pose and how to modify so that you keep proper alignment.
First of all, if you have a tight spine or if you have difficulty connecting your heels to the mat the entire time that you lower into your squat, get a blanket. For example, I can lower into Malasana and keep my heels connected without help from a blanket. However, I have a tight spine. When I place the folded blanket under my heels and the arches of my feet, it gives me enough lift to find a better rotation without compromising my form.
- Stand with your heels outer hip distance apart. Slightly turn out the toes.
- Lift your toes so you can feel the four corners of your feet press evenly into the floor. (The four corners are: under the big toe, under the little toe, and the inside and outside of the heel.) Hug the muscles of your feet and ankles to the bone to help you stay centered.
- Place your hands on your hips and rotate your pelvis so you can feel your SITs bones point at the baseboard behind you.
- Bring your hands up to heart center.
- We use ujjayi breathing.
- As you inhale, feel your spine lengthen and your low belly draw toward your spine for support.
- Exhale and let your SITs bones guide you back and down. As you begin to lower, imagine you are lowering into a chair or completing Utkatasana (Chair pose).
- If you are able, lower so that your triceps (the backs of your arms) meet the adductors (inner thighs). Exert equal energy with your triceps pressing into your adductors and your adductors pressing into your triceps. This will help you stabilize in your hips so that you can lengthen your spine.
- As you move deeper into the pose, focus on lengthening the spine and reaching from your tailbone (which is now pointed on less of an angle, but still not pointing straight beneath you) through the top of your head.
- Feel your collarbones broaden and your shoulders slide down your back.
Parivrtta That Malasana
- Draw your belly button toward your spine.
- Release the pressure with the backs of your arms, and rotate to the right.
- Reach your arms on a diagonal line with your left palm or fingertips on the ground and your right hand reaching on an upward angle.
- Hold for 5-8 breaths.
- Rotate back to center. Take a break if needed or rotate to the left.
- Reach your arms on a diagonal line with your right palm or fingertips on the ground and your left hand reaching on an upward angle.
- Hold for 5-8 breaths.
- Rotate back to center.
- Ground down through your feet. Hug the muscles to the bone, and press up to standing.
Parivrtta Malasana Video
Here is a video for visual learners.
Do you prepare for this pose? If you do, what poses do you do before and/or after? Let us know in the comments.
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