Malasana

Malasana

Asana: Malasana, Garland Pose or Squat

Malasana is an excellent pose for transitioning from standing asanas to the floor. It opens the hips, improves balance, and is a great prenatal pose.

In this photo, the hands are placed together in Namaskara mudra. However, the arms can also wrap around the knees, clasping the hands behind them, forming a garland or mala with the arms.

Method:

From a standing position, step the feet slightly more than hip width distance apart

Inhale, and exhale as you bend the knees, lowering yourself down into a squat position. Be sure your toes point in the same direction as your knees. Place your hands on the floor in front of yourself to help with your balance.

Engage the abdominals slightly (a slight mula bandha and uddiyana bandha) to support the low back.

If it is available to you, bring your hands together into Namaskara mudra (palms together) at your heart center. This joins ida and pingala nadis, or balances the energy of the opposites.

Press your elbows into your inner knees, creating a slight resistance between your knees and your elbows

Try to keep your spine straight, with your torso snuggled in between your thighs.

Benefits:

Stretches the ankles, groin, hips, legs, back and torso.

Cautions:

Low back discomfort, knee or ankle injuries, balance issues.

Modifications:

Do not bend down as deeply if it gives you pain in the low back or in your knees.  Feel free to put your hands on a wall or a chair to help with balance if you cannot squat down fully. If you are able to squat deeply into the full squat, give yourself permission to put your hands on the floor in front of you if you are unable to balance.

If your heels come off the floor, place a folded blanket or roll up a portion of your yoga mat with enough thickness to put under your heels so they can comfortably rest on it. This will offer support for balance, allowing you to relax into the pose.

Contributed by Marion (Mugs) McConnell, E-RYT500, SOYA

Mala Beads

Mala Beads

What are Mala Beads?
A mala is a garland of 108 beads used to count the recitation of mantras. Mala is Sanskrit for garland. Malas are used in Eastern spiritual practices, but more than 2/3’s of the world population uses prayer beads in their spiritual practice including Christians (Catholic rosary), Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism.  They are used as a meditation tool to count the number of mantras while chanting or reciting.

Made of many different types of beads including gems, wood, seeds, bone, and crystal; there are different properties or qualities to the type of bead, and the choosing of a mala can be a very personal experience or sometimes gifted from your Guru or teacher. Some mala users prefer to make their own, reciting a mantra as they make it to imbue the mala with those qualities of the mantra.
Mala Beads
Yoga practitioners use malas in their mantra practice. A mantra is repeated to help create focus and to allow deeper levels of awareness and relaxation. As you move along the beads, it has the effect of ‘waking you up’ to the moment and to the mantra rather than it becoming mechanical.  When not used in mantra, wearing the mala can help the wearer be mindful and have a sense of peace throughout the day.

I have a few malas, and I may vary which one I use on the energy I may need that day.  However, my most used mala is a very basic simple mala presented to me by my teacher Mugs at Yoga Teacher Training.

Gail Thompson, E-RYT500, is a Lead Trainer for SOYA Yoga Teacher Training in Creston, BC in the Kootenays.