Why should we squat? On average, we sit 7.7 hours a day. Unfortunately, this can result in stiffness and weakness in our legs, calves, ankles, and outer hips. According to the Yoga Journal, "When Westerners embraced sitting—in cars, at desks, in front of the TV—we started to lose suppleness and strength in the legs and flexibility in the calves, ankles, and outer hips. The abdomen and lower back muscles also suffered when we started sitting on chairs, because backrests allow us to slack off and neglect our core muscles. But yoga can help restore what we’ve lost. Malasana, or Garland Pose, is a yogi’s squat. In it you utilize the complete range of motion of the legs by bending the knees fully until the pelvis is resting at the back of the heels."
Let's look at Malasana (Garland) Pose, its benefits and the amazing array of modifications that can help us undo the damage of our Western lifestyle.
Well, it looks like this from the front...
And this is what it looks like from the side...
And the full expression of the pose is with the head to the floor, like so...
Here is a simple and straight to the point 58-second video explaining how to get into Malasana.
Even though it may not seem like it, the yoga squat has a truckload of benefits. Doing Malasana: -
Some people might find Malasana a breeze to do and get into but for others, it might not be so simple. Here are a few modifications of the yoga squat for you to try.
Lean against a wall as support both when getting into the pose and whilst sitting in it. Slide your self down to get into the pose and slide yourself up to get back out of it.
"If your heels don’t touch the floor, place foam blocks, a wedge or a rolled up blanket under the heels," suggests GaiamTV. We used a rolled up mat and it did the trick perfectly.
GaiamTV also suggest placing a block under the hips and sitting on it like a stool if you feel pressure in the knees.
Hold on to a counter, tabletop or sturdy chair to come into and get out of a squat.
Sit on the floor and hug the knees in with the arms to rest in the elbows, with the hands at Namaste.
(Image via @naughtyyogagirl)
Some find that balancing on the tiptoes in Malasana is easier than keeping the heels on the floor.
Stretching your arms forward onto the floor in front of you can help deepen the stretch slowly using the floor by inching further forward at your own pace.
If getting the arms in between the legs into Namaste is too strenuous, extend the arms up above the head for this killer quad workout!
For those who find squatting difficult, sit on the edge of a chair seat and lean the upper body forward between the thighs as far as you can go.
To shake things up a bit and to deepen the stretch in the pelvic area, twist the upper body, placing one hand on the floor in between your feet and raise the other hand to the ceiling.
"Whatever variation gives you a reasonable amount of sensation, without causing pain – other than yes, that burning sensation in the front shins – is the perfect place to be. Five minutes is a long time to hold Malasana, particularly at the beginning. Instead, set a timer for one minute, hold the pose until the timer goes off, then stand up, release whatever needs releasing for a minute, and return to the pose. If a minute is too long to hold, try 30 seconds, or go to an easier variation."
Here are six of our favourite Malasana superposes for the advanced yogis out there:
And for squat lovers, yogi and non-yogi alike, here is our guide to 10 of the most popular and most effective squat exercises to totally destroy your lower body (in a good way)...
Not for the faint-hearted, here is an amazing step-by-step guide on the Pistol Squat.
A fantastic guide from Shape Magazine on how to perfect your Goblet Squat.
Our favourite, the Sumo Squat! Check out this easy to follow video on how to find your Sumo Squat.
Often we hear people grunt at the gym, and that's usually when they attempt front squat with weights. It doesn't have to be painful! Check out this helpful guide to build strength through your front squat.
A fantastic way to build core and back strength while opening up your quads, beautifully illustrated by trudeirene82 above!
Lunge squat as pictured. Worth noting that we love this comprehensive guide on how to NOT over train your quads and the importance of practicing with adjustments for sensitive knees. Check it out if you are a self-confessed 'Quadzilla', or that you want to learn about how to protect your knees during squatting exercises.
Whoa. Pretty powerful variation.
Even better when done on the water.
"The Hack Squat is a great #vastusmedialis developer and thus entering the bottom 15 degrees and top 15 degrees of the movement will enable you to recruit and develop those empowering teardrop muscles. Try decelerating the movement down on the balls of your feet before pushing out of the bottom position on your heels!"
Fantastic guide from More than Muscle based in London, UK. We hear ya.
There is nothing sissy about sissy squat. In fact, it really is quite intimidating. Check out the work out from this fantastic guide on how to master your sissy squat from Muscle and Fitness. If you're now pumped and can't wait to get squatting, why don't you try out a squat challenge? Here are a few of our favourites.
Let us know how you get on! Happy squatting! How do you find Malasana? Do you have any tips/tricks to for this pose? We'd love to hear from you.