Yoga pose breakdown: Malasana/Garland pose
This post was written by Lia Gomez-Duran.
Ahhh, Malasana, now that is a nice stretch. Also known as a full squat, malasana, or garland pose is one of the juiciest inner thigh stretches, and my personal favourite.
I’ve been especially obsessed with this full squat because (other than it feeling so good) I recently completed my prenatal yoga training and learned how very, very important this position can be while pregnant and during labour.
If you think about our ancestors hundreds of years ago, they didn’t spend hours everyday sitting on chairs, couches, in cars, or on toilets. They would squat for hours every day; they’d squat to wash dishes and do laundry, squat to prepare food and squat to have their babies. If you’ve ever traveled to a developing country, you will still see many people in this position waiting for buses and preparing food. Furthermore, if you watch a toddler playing, they will naturally squat down when playing with their toys. It’s such a natural position for humans to be in, but it is becoming less and less common because we spend much of our time working at desks, lounging on furniture, and driving in cars.
If you’ve ever gone to a yoga class, you may either love or hate malasana. If you have tight hamstrings, hips, calves or ankles, you will probably find it uncomfortable and may struggle to get your heels to the ground like your yoga teacher is likely doing. But fear not, because the more you incorporate this squat into your everyday life, the easier and more comfortable it will become, and like me, you may become obsessed.
From standing tall, you can get into this pose by widening your feet slightly wider than hips width, angle your toes out to the corners of your mat and slowly lower your bottom back and down as if you are about to sit down on a chair. Instead of stopping where a chair would be, keep going…all…the…way…down.
If your heels are up off the ground, use a folded blanket (or your folded mat) under them to rest on.Focus on sending your breath to your lower abdomen and you can even close your eyes to deepen the relaxation.If you want to stay here for a while for a more passive stretch, place a block under your sacrum and come to rest on it.
This pose is a great hip opener, it also strengthens and stretches calves, ankles, back, neck and abdominals.If you are pregnant it is great for relieving common tension in your ankles, low back and hips, as well as preparing the muscles in your legs for an active labour.Malasana can also aid in digestion. It is amazing for helping to ‘move things along’ if you’re dealing with constipation. In fact, a company has figured this out and created a device called the squatty potty which you can put at the base of your toilet to squat on and really get things going.
So get your squat on!