Malasana, the Yoga Squat

Malasana, which is also known as Garland pose or a Squat, can be quite challenging. Unlike traditional squats, where the goal is increased repetition or weight, the goal of Malasana is hip opening. It’s because of this goal that Malasana is recommended for pregnant women throughout pregnancy.

However, if you have knee or hip pain, bending into a squat can be quite a challenge. First, let me say that you should not start doing any new exercises before consulting your doctor. Next, always pay attention to your body. If you think something hurts or something isn’t working right, stop immediately.

Malasana with blanketHere are two props that could help reduce your pain in Malasana:  a folded blanket and a block. The folded blanket can be placed behind the knees for those with knee pain. This trick decreases the stress on the knee joint. Also, if you find that your heels won’t stay on the ground while you squat, place the folded blanket under your heels. This lifts the floor up to meet your heels and will therefore help you get into the pose better.

To use the yoga block, hold it as you begin to squat. When you get to your depth, place the block beneath you so you have something to perch upon. It’s important that you not sit and relax. This tool is to help reduce discomfort while you maintain muscular energy. Aside from possibly using a prop, everyone completes Malasana in the same way.

Malasana

  1. Stand with your heels outer hip distance apart. Slightly turn out the toes.
  2. 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.
  3. Place your hands on your hips and rotate your pelvis so you can feel your SITs bones point at the baseboard behind you.
  4. Bring your hands up to heart center.
  5. We will be using ujjayi breathing.
  6. As you inhale, feel your spine lengthen and your low belly draw toward your spine for support.
  7. Exhale and let your SITs bones guide you back and down. As you begin to lower, imagine as if you are lowering into a chair or completing Utkatasana (Chair pose).
  8. MalasanaIf 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Feel your collarbones broaden and your shoulders slide down your back.
  11. Breathe here for 5-8 breaths.
  12. Ground down through your feet. Hug the muscles to the bone, and press up to standing.

Malasana video

Here is a video for visual learners.

What do you think of Malasana? How does it compare to other squats you may have done? Let us know in the comments below.

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Sarah Stockett is STOTT certified in Matwork, Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, & Barrels, Injuries & Special Populations, and CORE; a Yoga Alliance RYT-200; and has studied Active Isolated Stretching. When she is not trying to discover the best exercises to get rid of pain, she likes watching movies and travelling with her family.

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