Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Pose of the Month - Malasana

Pose of the Month
Malasana – Garland Pose
By April Evans

The holiday season is filled with excitement of many varieties.  We all feel the buzz in the air brought on by the twinkly lights, bustling streets, and busy stores.  We anticipate parties and presents, food and friends, travel and transition.  These feelings are exciting at first, but can soon turn to anxiety as our to-do lists grow and our time to complete them shrinks.  In the hustle and bustle inherent in this season, Malasana, or Garland Pose, takes one of our favorite seasonal decorations and turns it into a wonderful tool for grounding.  This pose is considered by many to be one of the most beneficial poses in the entire asana practice.  It is a perfect pose to open the hips and lower back after you’ve been sitting in a car or on a plane.  It is equally useful a shape for simply feeling the feet root down after you’ve been running all over trying to get your shopping done.  This season give yourself the gift of a few breaths a day in Malasana.

Opens the hips, groins, low back, and ankles
Strengthens the thighs and the abdomen

How to:
If possible, practice this pose with a mirror to your right or left.  This will enable you to check the alignment of the spine.

1. Stand on the mat and separate the feet about mat’s distance apart.  Turn the toes out slightly.
2. Bring the palms to press together at the center of the chest in Anjali Mudra.
3. Anchor the tailbone down and feel the abdomen pull in.  Notice the long line from the tailbone to the crown of the head.
4.  Keep this line intact and hinge the hips back into a low squat, the elbows coming to the insides of the knees. 
5.  Press the elbows into the knees and feel the chest brighten forward and shoulder blades draw together, making the upper spine as straight as possible.
6.  This is where the mirror comes in handy.  If you are very flexible in your hips and legs, it is likely that the low back is rounding.  Lift the hips up a couple inches and tip the chest slightly forward to bring work back into the legs.  If you are tighter in your legs, it is possible that your heels have popped off the floor.  You can place a blanket underneath them or separate the feet a little more and lift the hips a little higher.  If you have any issues with your knees, do not lower all the way down into the low squat.  Instead, take the feet very wide and stay in a high-squat.
7. Ease the back of the neck and the face, take 10 deep, full breaths as the spine lengthens, the legs and feet ground, and the hips open up.

Happy Holidays!

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