In yoga, the deep squat position is known as Garland Pose or Malasana. It combines the elements of hip flexibility, chest opening, and balance. It’s a great pose for yogis of every experience level, as it can be adapted to be both more accommodating and more challenging. Malasana is a good way to get familiar with your center of gravity and overall body awareness because it includes several aspects, each targeting a different body part.
“Malasana is my go-to hip opener pose,” says Yoga Answered contributor Cat Harvey. “In a strange way, it’s both grounding and uplifting at the same time.”
Garland Pose Quick Look
Sanskrit Name: Malasana
Pose Type: Standing Yoga Poses
Difficulty Level: Beginner pose
Targets: Ankles, hips, chest, and spine
Benefits: Garland Pose is well-known as a great hip opener, but even more importantly, it encourages active mobility of the hips. Instead of forcing the hips into a wide-angle position, Malasana requires active engagement in the abductor muscles to keep the hips open. Furthermore, regular practice of this pose results in improved posture, pelvic floor strength, and body balance. Finally, Malasana is great for increasing the range of motion and stability in the ankles.
Preparatory Poses: Chair Pose, Goddess Pose, Figure Four Stretch
How to Do Garland Pose Step-By-Step
- From a standing position, widen your stance, placing your feet next to the edges of the yoga mat. Turn the toes outwards, to approximately a 45-degree angle.
- Bring your hands together at heart center and lengthen through the spine.
- Keeping your back straight, begin to slowly descend into a deep squat. Make sure your knees point in the same direction as the toes.
- As you establish yourself in the low squat, position your elbows on the inner side of the knees. Gently push the elbows out to encourage the hips to open up.
- Draw your shoulders back and open through the chest. Stay here for 30-60 seconds.
One of the more difficult things about this pose is finding an appropriate position for the feet to stay steady and balanced. If you are struggling, experiment with different distances between your feet – you may fair better with the feet positioned wider or closer together. This can also be an ankle mobility issue, as Malasana forces quite an extreme form of dorsiflexion. You have the option to bring your feet closer together and lift the heels off the floor to accommodate the ankles. If that compromises your balance, you can add a block or a rolled-up towel under each heel for support. Finally, if you find it difficult to balance in Garland Pose, you can rest your hands on the floor or a pair of blocks in front of you, as long as you can maintain a straight spine.