Garland Pose (Malasana)

Malasana is one of the basic Yoga poses to stretch and strengthen the lower body. The muscle groups it focuses on are the Thighs, Hamstrings, Groin, Lower back. It also serves to improve your balance and works out all the smaller muscles as you hold stability in the pose. It also elongates the spine and relaxes the lower back muscles.

How to

Come to stand with your feet about mat’s width apart.
Bend the knees and lower your butt toward the floor to come into a squat.
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. Keep your heels flat to the floor.
Take your upper arms inside your knees and bend the elbows to bring the palms together into Anjali mudra (prayer position).
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 .
Keep your spine straight, your butt moving toward the floor, and your shoulders relaxed, away from your ears.
Stay here for 5 breaths, then straighten the legs to come out. You can come directly into a forward fold if you like. 
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. You can also give the variations pictured above a try.

Benefits

  • Stretches the ankles, groins and back torso
  • Works great as a hip opener
  • Tones the belly
  • Helps regulate digestion
  • Improves colon function and helps metabolism
  • Improves circulation in the pelvic area
  • Improves posture

Contraindications

Injury to knees or ankles: This pose brings tremendous amount of pressure on knees and ankles, so someone with an injury at the knee or ankle should avoid Malasana.
Pregnancy: This pose puts a lot of pressure on the abdominal area and must be avoided by pregnant women.



Pro Tip: 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 put more pressure forward rather than down.

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