Benefits Of The Pose:
The tradition or act of squatting absolutely carries many benefits. The Yogi Squat pose can help virtually the entire lower body. The pose will open the hips, stretch the hamstrings, back and ankles. This posture not only provides a stretch to the lower body but will also help strengthen the glutes, calf muscles and the core. The lower back can also benefit greatly from the practice of Malasana Pose.
Why is squatting so much better than sitting?
Well, unlike squatting, sitting is filled with negative effects that can cause health issues in our future life. Sitting leads to a much higher percentage of stress on the back and lower spine. When we sit at a 90-degree angle in a chair, we shorten our hip flexors called the psoas. As the psoas shorten, our lumbar spine is pushed forward and pulled out of alignment. Prolonged sitting can make you more likely to experience a back injury or pain. The practice of Malasana and other hip opening poses can help offset this effect and provide much more mobility in the hips.
The Yogi Squat can also help strengthen the core. A stronger core is critical in protecting our back from injury and stress. When we sit in chairs, usually we slump and collapse, this does nothing to benefit our core and typically avoids using it altogether.
Malasana is also thought of as a grounding posture as it brings closer to the earth. Being grounded and close to the earth is thought to provide calm. Many yogic beliefs also consider the hips to be a gathering place for stress and negative feelings. Like other hip openers, Garland Pose is thought to allow for the release of these negative feelings by opening the hips.
Open The Hips
Stretches The Hamstrings
Stretches The Ankles
Helps Tone The Glutes
Prep & Follow Up Poses:
There are several postures that can be used as preparatory poses for Malasana. These poses include Bound Angle Pose, Wide Legged Forward Fold Pose and Hero Pose. Easy Pose could also be used prior to trying a Yogi Squat. As a hip opener itself, Malasana Pose can be used to prepare your hips for deeper more advanced hip opener poses such as Lizard Pose.
Follow up postures could include Lotus Pose, Easy Pose, or Bound Angle Pose. You may also decide to move on to a more advanced and deeper stretch or hip opener after this posture. It’s also a common transition to move from Malasana to Crow Pose, more on that later.
Modifications & Cautions:
As mentioned, this pose is considered a simple beginner posture even though it may not be accessible to everyone. As a result, there aren’t many cautions or concerns.
Generally, it’s best not to practice this pose if you have a current knee or lower back injury. Hamstrings and ankles should also be considered as the posture will provide a stretch in those areas.
If you feel knee pain or discomfort during the pose, you may elect to place a blanket behind the knees in between the hamstrings and calves to help reduce the deepness of the knee bend. Some students use a yoga block for support if their unable to fully squat into the posture.
If you have trouble balancing, try placing your lower back against a wall or place your hands on a chair or stable object. If you can’t get your heels to the ground, use a blanket underneath them to raise the floor and provide support.
As your practice of the pose advances, you may be able to lean further forward into a deeper version of the pose. Some yogis may also use Malasana as a transition pose into Crow Pose.
Make sure not to separate your knees as you squat into the posture, protect your knees by separating them after you have bent your knees fully.
Lengthen your spine, don’t allow it to round.
Lean slightly forward but still allow your weight to go into your heels.
Use your elbows to gently spread your knees and keep them pushed outward.
Avoid any quick movements in the pose and don’t rock back and forth or bounce up and down.
Don’t force your heels down, or bend the knees past your limits. Use props if needed.
We will start in Mountain Pose at the top of your mat. Place your feet about hips width or near the edge of your mat.
Place your arms by your side or move the hands into prayer position.
Slowly and cautiously drop into a squat, keep your thighs just slightly separated at this point, place support under your heels if they can’t reach the floor.
Lean slightly forward and bring your elbows or arms to the inside of your knees. You can place your hands in prayer position and use the elbows to support and keep the knees spread.
Remember to lengthen the back not allowing it to round.
Allow some of your weight to balance into the heels and work toward getting your forearms parallel to the earth.
Hold the Malasana Pose for a few breaths and then drop your hands to mat. Slowly unbend the knees and rise into Mountain Pose or Standing Forward Bend.