Garland Pose or Malasana: happy hips, inner peace
Make space in your hips
Garland pose, malasana, or simply "yogi squat" is a wonderful way to open and lengthen your hips. If you sit at work, in your car or at school for long periods, your hip flexibility may suffer; the inner thighs, groin, and hip flexors can shorten and tighten, leading to poor posture and back pain. Use this pose to create more mobility for your daily activities.
Cultivate peace and focus
Malasana can be used to cultivate inner peace; a gathering to centre with prayer mudra creates a calm focus inward. In India, mala beads are used in prayer and meditation as a steadying metronome to count prayers (the sacred cycle is 108 - the number of beads on a mala) and are often used traditionally in rituals offerings and altar decorating.
Benefits of garland pose
Garland pose is the perfect stretch for the groin, thighs, hips, ankles and torso. It increases circulation and blood flow to the pelvis and improves balance, concentration and focus. Garland pose helps to prep the body for for meditation by relaxing the hips and gathering focus, and is the best prep pose for crow, or bakasana. Finally, this pose tones abdominal muscles and helps lengthens the spine.
** If you have complications with your knees or this pose doesn't feel right, don't force it. Always listen to your body and work within the realm of your practice in that moment.
How to get into garland pose
Stand with your feet a little wider than hip-width apart (mat-width usually works!). Turn your toes out slightly, aligned with your knees.
Bend your knees, lower your hips, and come into a squat. It can help to think about sliding your back down an imaginary wall and bringing your weight into your heels.
Gather your hands at centre in prayer mudra and press your elbows into the inner seam of your legs, just above the knee. You may use some slight traction between these two places to open your hips and groin further.
Roll your shoulders onto your back body and lengthen your spine out of your waist.
As you press your palms at centre think about widening your collarbones away from your heart.
Once you’re in malasana, try closing your eyes. See if you can hold the posture for a minute, or maybe even longer. Perhaps you can feel the downward flow of energy moving through your body. Notice, when you come out, if you feel a little more calm and connected. A beautiful counter-pose is forward fold.
If you're interested in learning more about your hips and the poses to open and nourish this area of your body, check out our happy hips hatha class!