Garland will make you happy

Yoga’s garland pose has strong grounding properties to help us realign and tap into downward flowing energy.

by Kaileigh Nicols

Hello, namaste and welcome to your asana practice. Today we will be focusing our energy on the garland pose, yogi squat or malasana. This pose is excellent for strengthening that pesky pelvic floor and is generally used to open the hips, groin and ankles. This pose helps with digestion by gently massaging organs internally.

Yogi Tips

• If you’ve never done this before I suggest using a block or something to rest your bottom on, especially if your hips are tight. Feel free to remove the block.

• If your hips and ankles are really tight and/or you have knee or back injuries, start by sitting on the edge of a chair. Bring your knees out to a right angle from your hips, keep your feet turned outward and lean forward until you feel a stretch, all the time keeping the core engaged. Once you’ve mastered this, put your skills to the test with the steps below.

• It’s okay if your heels are lifted up, but work towards drawing them towards the ground.

• Listen to your body, not your ego. Exercise caution and don’t push yourself farther than you’re comfortable, especially with hip openers. I encourage you to play around with your stance until it feels right.

• No two bodies are the same, so respect your individual ability. Recognize  that everyone’s pose will look a little different and that’s okay!

STEP BY STEP

(Before starting this or any other exercise program, consult with your health-care professional first.)

First things first: let’s start with a grounding exercise to set ourselves up for success with this posture.

1. Stand at the top of your mat with your feet hip bone width apart (generally two fists width between your feet) and parallel to one another.

2. Roll your shoulders back and down, away from the ears.

3. Draw your belly button towards the spine and engage through the core.

4. Take three deep breaths: in through the nose and out through the mouth.

5. Close your eyes.

6. Feel the connection of your feet on the mat, lift up all your toes, then ground them down individually.

7. Ground through the feet and draw the attention back to your breath for five more deep breaths.

Feeling good? Now you are ready for the garland pose.

1. Heel-toe your feet, wider than your hips, with toes pointed slightly outward, towards the edges of your mat. How far apart your feet should be will depend on your bone structure so know that you can adjust your stance at any point.

2. Now, squat down – as far as is comfortable – bringing your bottom towards the ground.

Optional

1. Grab your block (or cushion) and place it under your bum for support, if required.

2. Next, bring your hands towards your ‘heart centre’ by firming the base of your hands together.

3. If possible (but not required) press your upper arms against your thighs, resisting your legs into your arms (and your arms against your legs) to foster resistance which will help support your balance.

4. Draw your belly button in, towards the spine, engaging through the core.

5. Lift through the collar bone so you have a flat spine. If your spine is rounded, you may need to adjust your stance.

6. Relax through the shoulders.

Voila!You’ve accomplished malasana!

Here, you may choose to find stillness, closing your eyes and breathing into the sensations in your body, or you may choose to invite some movement.

Movement might include making little circles with the ankles or releasing the hands to the ground and rocking front to back.

To exit the posture

Option One: Forward fold

1. Release your hands to the ground.

2. Gently gaze down at your hands.

3. Press into the feet and straighten through the legs while keeping your hands and upper body towards the ground, entering into forward fold.

4. Maintain a soft bend through the knee.

5. Release any tension in the neck – no effort.

6. Bring your hands to your hips and draw the elbows into one another behind the back.

7. Belly to spine, engaging the core.

8. Resist into the outer edges of the feet and rise all the way up to standing.

Option Two: Releasing to the ground

1. Feel free to use your hands as support.

2. Slowly and with as much control as possible sit your bottom on the

ground.

Benefits of this posture include:

• Strengthen the pelvic floor,

• Opens the hips, groin and ankles,

• Improves digestion,

• Tones the belly,

• Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause, menstruation and back pain.

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