In some cultures, squatting is very common. In the United States…not so much! There are benefits to performing deep yoga squat that include lengthening and strengthening. Today we examine Malasana, also known as Garland Pose.

Helping us is Gayle Zacharia (E-RYT Yoga Alliance). “Malasana or Garland pose is a deep squat with legs spread apart about the width of a yoga mat and feet slightly splayed out,” Zacharia explains. “Elbows are pressed into the inner knees and thighs. Palms are pressed together into prayer pose (Anjuli mudra). Chest is lifted.”

If you’re not used to deep squats, this may feel really strange the first time you try! The good news is…it’s worth it. “The benefits are strengthening the feet, thighs, hips and gluteals. Incorporating a pelvic floor lift (Mula bandha) lifts and tones the organs of the pelvis including bladder and genitalia. It also aids in digestion,” says Zacharia. As if that’s not enough, this pose can help release the hips, inner thighs, and low back.

Zacharia says Garland Pose is particularly helpful for people with tight hips and psoas muscles.

People with hip and knee issues need to be especially cautious in this pose. We want to avoid joint pain in poses, and instead feel the release in the muscles and fascia. There are many options in Garland Pose. “Modifications include a wide stance but only going half way down, avoiding dropping the hips past the knees,” explains Zacharia. If heels are unable to stay on the ground, try placing a foam wedge or blanket under the heels for support.

Zacharia says alternate poses that deliver similar benefits include Goddess pose (wide squat with toes turned out and chest lifted) and Happy Baby pose.

Try Garland Pose towards the end of a workout or yoga session when the body is warm, and start enjoying the benefits today!

***Editor’s Note: Garland Pose is also a handy way to stretch out freshly laundered pants!