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.
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.
Stretches the ankles, groin, hips, legs, back and torso.
Low back discomfort, knee or ankle injuries, balance issues.
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