How to Do Garland Pose (Malasana) in Yoga

Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

Garland pose
Ben Goldstein

Also Known As: Squat

Targets: Hips, groin muscles

Level: Beginner

Garland Pose (Malansana) is yoga's deep squat. It opens your hips and groin in counterbalance to the tightness you can develop from sitting too much. You can make use of props for support at first so you can do the pose in a way that not painful. Then work over time to slowly wean yourself from the props by lowering them little by little. It can be a long process, but it works and is important for your long-term mobility and for pain prevention.

Benefits

Garland Pose opens the hips and groins as it stretches and strengthens the feet and ankles.

While squatting comes naturally to children and is used as a resting position in many places on Earth, but most adults in the First World have gotten out of the habit. So far out of the habit, in fact, that they find squatting extremely uncomfortable for their hips and feet. Garland pose is an effective way to counter the tightness you get from spending too much time sitting in chairs.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Come to stand with your feet about mat's width apart.
  2. Bend the knees and lower your butt toward the floor to come into a squat.
  3. It's natural for your toes to want to turn out and that's OK, but don't overdo it. Eventually, you're working toward keeping the feet closer to parallel.
  4. Take your upper arms inside your knees and bend the elbows to bring the palms together into anjali mudra (prayer position).
  5. Try to bring your hands to your heart center with the forearms parallel to the floor, allowing the pressure of your elbows to open the knees slightly.
  6. Keep your spine straight, your butt moving toward the floor, and your shoulders relaxed away from your ears.
  7. Stay here for five breaths, then straighten the legs to come out. You can come directly into a Forward Fold if you like. 
  8. Try repeating the pose three times to take full advantage of getting warmed up. If you are practicing at home, it's fine to do some other poses in between your squats.

Common Mistakes

To protect your knees, keep them together as you bend your legs into the pose, then spread your knees.

Your heels may come up when you squat. To keep a better balance, place a folded blanket under your heels for support. Otherwise, the pose will place more pressure forward rather than down.

Modifications and Variations

Need a Modification?

Slide a block or two under your butt for more support if necessary. Over time, see if you can gradually lower the height of your support so that gravity can work to stretch your hips and ankles.

If you have difficulty balancing in this pose, try it near a wall or facing the back of a chair so you can reach out for balance. You may also do this pose with your back against a wall.

Up for a Challenge?

If your feet are parallel, work on bringing them closer together.

Release the support of your elbows inside the knees and try to maintain the separation of the knees and your long spine.

Safety and Precautions

Avoid Garland Pose if you have a knee or low back injury. Be sure to avoid any jerky motion or coming down into your squat forcefully. Don't push yourself into a deeper squat than your body is ready to achieve. If you feel any pain, back out of the pose.

Try It Out

Incorporate this move and similar ones into one of these popular workouts:

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