Garland Pose - Malasana

Garland pose
Ben Goldstein

Also known as: Squat

Type of pose: Hip opener

Benefits: Opens the hips and groins, stretches and strengthens the feet and ankles.

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. If you've experienced this, don't cross garland pose off your to-do list since it's a really effective way to counter the tightness you get from spending too much time sitting in chairs. Instead, 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.


  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.

Beginners' Tips

  • Use a folded blanket under your heels for support if your heels come up when you squat. This is better than trying to balance on the balls of your feet, which shifts the whole trajectory of the pose forward instead of down.
  • 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 supports so that gravity can work to stretch your hips and ankles.

Advanced Tips

  • 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.
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