The summer heat is here and it's time for another Block Party. This time, I want to work on one of my favorite hip-opening poses: malasana, a.k.a. garland pose, a.k.a. the yogic squat. While it can be uncomfortable for many people of the tight-hip persuasion, there are plenty of modifications to bring ease, alignment and challenge to this pose!
Malasana is a prep pose for many other hip openers and arm balances, and I often go straight from malasana into bakasana (which, as I'm certain you'll recall, was the theme of the inaugural Block Party.)
Proceed with caution if you are working with any knee injuries. As always, remain conscious of your body's signals, and explore with compassion!
Nailing the Pose
Get a feel for malasana by placing a block under your butt, stepping your feet mat's-width distance apart, and bringing your feet flat to the ground. Using a block in this way alleviates strain on the ankles.
It's sometimes challenging to maintain openness across the chest and back while squatting and pressing the palms together. Try squeezing a block on the medium setting between your palms and extending your arms forward, parallel to the ground:
Next, slide your shoulder blades toward each other and pull the heads of your humerus bones backwards into the shoulder socket.
This motion opens the front of the chest and puts your shoulders in correct alignment for long, full breaths. Squeeze the block between your palms to turn on the muscles of the shoulders and arms.
I've often heard the cue to push the palms together and press the elbows and upper arms into my thighs to open my hips further. This is a great start but my arms are only so long. Fortunately, yoga blocks do a great job as arm-lengtheners.
Start with the block between your palms at the narrow setting. Keeping your shoulders back as above, press into the block while using your elbows to guide open your inner thighs, deepening the stretch in the inner legs and hips.
If this takes you to the edge, stay here and keep pressing into the block, drawing the shoulder blades together, and pointing your tailbone straight down at the ground.
If you have room for an even deeper stretch in the inner thighs and hips, turn the block to the next setting(s).
And now your hip adductors are ready for the next great adventure!
I'm off to celebrate my boyfriend's birthday(!) with a fabulous dinner followed by two extremely exciting excursions in Baltimore tomorrow. 'Til next time, here are a few upcoming Baltimore yoga events to check out:
- Sunday, 17 July, 9:30-10:30 PM: All-Levels Outdoor Yoga with Pop Up Yoga Baltimore, Canton Waterfront Park
- Tuesday, 19 July, 8:30-9:45 PM: Full Moon Yoga with Pop Up Yoga Baltimore, Canton Waterfront Park
Last time: Bakasana Block Party