Drop deep into yourself with malasana: Garland pose
Garland pose is a hip-opening yoga posture that helps to lengthen and open the hips, creating more mobility for all of your daily activities. The Sanskrit name for this pose, malasana (mah-LAHS-uh-nuh) comes from two words: “mala,” meaning “garland,” and “asana,” meaning “pose.” When pronounced correctly, it also refers to the squatting position, the pose taken in ancient India to eliminate waste—ideal for healthy bowel movements!
Our hips are one of the largest joints in our bodies, an energetic juncture point where it’s easy to store anger, tension, and rigidity. Our hips allow us to move forward in life with grace and ease, so it’s important to keep this part of our bodies limber, open, and lubricated. When aligned properly, practicing this pose can feel so good, opening up the hip flexors and offering a deep stretch to the groin muscles and a complimentary release for the second, or sacral/spleen chakra—also known as the svadisthana chakra—which governs the flow of creative, sexual, and reproductive energy. It can help strengthen and relax the lower back, calves, and glutes. It also helps boost metabolism, stoke the digestive fire, and alleviate constipation—making the name for this pose appropriate.
Any time you feel fearful, tense, emotionally constipated, or feeling the urge to control yourself or others, practice malasana.
To begin, stand tall in Mountain pose. Set your intention. Take a deep, purifying breath in. Exhale as you plant your feet wider, at least shoulder-width apart. Inhale your palms to your heart into namaskar mudra (Prayer pose), then with a straight back and feet firmly planted, bend your knees as you slowly exhale, squatting mindfully down into malasana, with your rear end hovering above the mat. If the pose is too deep, feel free to sit on a block (placed either horizontally or vertically for more support).
Listen to your body. Adjust your feet as necessary; parallel is best, but if this is too uncomfortable, point the toes outward to protect your knees. To avoid injury, make sure your knees stay facing the same direction as your toes. If your hips feel too tight to hover over the floor, modify the pose by releasing Prayer pose and placing your hands on the mat or on a block for extra support. Once settled into the pose, close your eyes and breathe deeply into your core. Send light and love energy into your hips and groin. If you can, stay in the pose for at least five deep breaths, or longer if it feels good. With each inhale, lift your heart. With each exhale, sink deeper into the pose, releasing the next layer of tension. Give your body permission to relax fully into the pose. Let go of control and any judgment. Breathe deeper. If you can, press the elbows and forearms into your knees. See if you can open your hips any wider. Enjoy the pleasure of release.
Most of all, don’t worry about what the pose looks like. Although being flexible and creating Instagram-worthy yoga poses is fun, the true practice of this ancient 5,000+-year-old art is how you manage to live off, not on, the mat.
When you’re done, slowly come to a seat on the mat and finish the pose with a seated meditation or savasana (Corpse pose), or if you’re feeling energized, move into pigeon pose or take an inversion into tripod headstand. Take a note of how you feel at this moment. Embrace it with compassion. Carry this feeling with you, using it as a tool for spiritual, physical, and emotional healing whenever it’s time to drop deep into all of the blessings your life has to offer.