A squatting asana, garland pose malasana is a true test of lower body strength, flexibility, joint mobility, and mental grit. You probably sat this way as a toddler, and you’ll see this sitting variation a lot in less developed countries. But most, unless squats are a part of your workout routine, never get down that low to test your joints and isometric leg strength and stamina. There are loads of benefits in this position, from stretching the groin to loosening the hips, building isometric leg strength, and keying in on some meditation.
The garland pose malasana is one we recommend doing daily because of its widespread advantages for the human body. Check out our full guide to a basic yoga pose and see which variations we like too!
Muscles Worked During Garland Pose Malasana
Garland pose is a decent lower body and core strengthening activity that also engages the back, and scapular region. Let’s talk about the muscles involved and what they contribute to our movement.
If you want big quadriceps or quads muscles, you typically squat, right? Well, you’re squatting down in the garland pose and holding this position which activates the quads isometrically.
A five-headed muscle with the discovery of an additional head more recently in the anterior thigh area, your quadriceps cross the hip bone and extend down through the knee. Hence, these muscles assist in straightening the leg at the knee, and bending the hips when you drop down into a squat.
The rear-facing thigh muscles opposite the quads, your hamstrings do just the opposite which is to bend the knee and straighten the hips (like when you stand up from a squat).
The calves are postural support muscles that point the toes down. In the squat, they also help support the weight load, also stretching out in the process. The calf muscles – gastrocnemius and soleus – also form the achilles tendon at the back of the leg, connecting the calf to the heelbone.
Rectus abdominis and obliques
Every squat will call upon your abdominal core muscles that when tensed, help stiffen the spine, so that you have a solid bridge to direct energy and force production efficiently.
How To Do The Garland Pose – Malasana
While anyone could plop down into what looks like a Garland pose without much thought, you’d be missing the most beneficial components. This section will detail the proper malasana technique with step by step instructions, tips, and a video demonstration.
- Target Muscle Group: Quads, glutes, hips, calves, rectus abdominis
- Type: Yoga
- Mechanics: Compound
- Equipment: Yoga blocks (Optional)
- Difficulty: Intermediate
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than the shoulders, and point your toes slightly outward.
- Bring your hands together in front of your chest like you’re saying a prayer (anjali mudra), then bend your hips and knees and descend into a deep squat, dropping your butt down lower than your knees.
- Tuck your elbows on the insides of your inner thighs near the knees. Try to keep your posture upright, head up, and back neutral. Fix your gaze on one spot in front of you, to help maintain your balance.
- Simultaneously push your elbows out against your inner thighs, and pull your thighs into your elbows. Keep your shoulders relaxed.
- Hold this position for at least ten seconds if possible.
- If you cannot yet get into a garland pose, sit on stacked foam blocks or something that’s easily measurable, and as you progress, take one block out from under you until you don’t need them for assistance.
- If your heels cannot touch the floor, don’t force them. Instead, place a mat or blankets under your heels if it’s more comfortable.
- Try to relax the scapula and avoid letting the head sinking into the shoulders.
- Pretend to pull your glutes and neck in opposite directions to keep a tall and lengthened spine.
- Wait several hours after eating a mean and feeling satiety before attempting the garland pose.
Benefits of Garland Pose Malasana
Compared to the average stretching routine, Garland pose malasana goes much deeper and encourages a longer duration to reap the benefits. Here’s why you need this pose and similar variations to improve your quality of life, and move as you should.
Stretches out uncommon areas
For many, a light chest, shoulder and standing thigh stretch is about the extent of their stretching routine. Yoga based techniques such as garland pose malasana and so many others give us a reason to reach those less stretched areas, which we really need.
Watch the garland pose, or try it out and try to determine where’s being stretched. If you do it properly, you should feel lengthening in the achilles tendon, groin, lower back, and spine.
These days we tend to sit a lot, and work from our desks which tightens the muscles we use during a squat. It’s good to keep these muscles loose, healthy, and functional especially as we get older.
Challenge your balance, stability and mobility
It’s not just the core, but to sit in this pose you need to activate the feet and legs to assist in stabilizing yourself in this seated stance. Most people are not used to ever sitting in a deep squat, which requires lower body strength, flexibility, and joint mobility. Garland root chakra, feeling a sense of safety and security.
Strengthen the pelvic floor
The pelvis floor can include the glutes, and sexual muscles. These are the muscles that control the flow of urine. Performing exercises like Garland pose helps strengthen this area which could support incontinence issues. It could also make intimacy better.
May support healthy digestion and improve constipation
It’s believed that this pose can improve the digestion system and even improve constipation issues. Posture and breath can have a big impact on your digestive system, if you’ve ever experienced the different between sitting and lying after eating.
Common Mistakes While Performing Garland Pose
Dropping down into a deep squat and holding is not easy for beginners. Common mistakes are forcing yourself all the way down and compromising good technique and your achilles tendon. Instead use some blocks to sit on or something low enough like a blanket. Don’t force it if you can’t do it. Take it in steps and try to progress over weeks. You don’t want the hips to be above the knee, lifting the heel up.
Another common mistake is only focusing on the squat component. Even during a squat, you don’t just dump your weight on your legs. It’s a combined effort from the legs, core, and upper body. With the Garland pose, you also want to focus on pulling the crown of the head up, lengthening the spine.
Lastly, two other form mishaps are rounding the spine, or hunching over, and tucking the tailbone. Maintain a neutral torso, as you would during a normal squat. In this technique, you want to focus on good posture.
Variations of Garland Pose Malasana
You can spin the garland (no pun intended) pose many different ways, and we’ve included some of the best versions of this sitting pose below.
Seated on a block
Blocks are an excellent progression tool for many yoga poses, and akin to training wheels on a bicycle. Assisted movements are very useful because they can help ease you into a technique by reinforcing proper form, strengthening the involved muscles, and helping with balance.
Grab a yoga block, stand it on the tall end, and slowly sit on the top end.
Garland pose with heels lifted
You’ll get off to a wobbly start for sure, but we like this heels raised version that loads the calf muscles, and will knock you off your toes, forcing you to concentrate on your balance.
Here’s a raw demonstration of this pose.
Malasana seated on your heels (Inner thigh stretch)
While similar to the previous variation, the one main difference is that you’re actually sitting on your heels and calves. It looks painful, and unless you’re fit enough to do it, you probably won’t be able to. But you’ll get a massive quad stretch, build your feet muscles, and benefit from everything mentioned in that section in this guide.
- From the garland pose posture, stand up on your toes and move your feet close together under your butt, so that you’re sitting on your heels and calves with the toes pointed out. Spread your knees wide apart so they’re facing the same direction as your toes. Sit up nice and tall, and hold for ten seconds.
Malasana seated knees pointed forward
From the previous variation, simply bring your legs in toward each other so they’re pointing straight forward. The thighs should be parallel. Keep standing on your toes and perform a ten count.
Garland pose with forward lean
To target feet flexibility, from the standard Garland pose with your feet flat on the floor, lean your body forward, with your arms supporting you, and count from one to ten.
Garland pose hands up
Rely totally on your legs and core without the comfort of holding your arms in front of your chest for balance. Get down in the Garland pose and reach your arms overhead to see how this variation differentiates from the others.
Garland pose with a twist
You can add a basic twist, or go a lot further with more involved variations.
One way to enhance the garland pose is to use similar isometric movements. You’ll toughen up your quads, hamstrings, and glutes, and condition them to support you in the deep seated position. But it’s also a squat variation, that helps reinforce proper squat mechanics, which is needed to get down in the yoga pose.
You can do it assisted by standing back against a wall, sliding down it until your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Or you can hold onto a counter, stall bars, power rack or any stable object.
Christmas season or not (Although we don’t quite know the correlation), the garland pose is a wakeup favorite that fires up the body on all cylinders. Appearing simple, this yogi squat isn’t easy for beginners, but can be easily progressed with assisted variations and other leg strengthening exercises. We need a lot more of these exercises through the various life stages, as these simple yet effective yoga poses train us to handle life’s challenges.
A resilient mind, powerful legs, a beastly core, and healthier hips, are just some of the many benefits you can explore in the garland pose, and you should introduce more advanced variations for more.