The mālāsana, or "Garland Pose", is a term for a squatted yoga asana. The term is being used for various asanas, all involving a squatted position, and the arms folded around the legs while holding the hands together at the back, also called kanchyasana ("golden belt pose"), or with the hands folded around the heels.
The term is also used in English for the upavesasana, the "regular squat pose," in which the handpalms are folded together in the socalled namaskar mudra in front of the chest, and the feet are set wider apart,[web 1] which resembles the traditional defecating position.
The term mālāsana is also used in the Sritattvanidhi to describe the bhujapidasana, the "shoulder press", in which the hands are placed at the bottom, the body balancing on the hands, and the legs resting on the shoulders.
Mālāsana can be found in three slightly different Sanskrit spellings:
- Sanskrit: मलसन, malasana (pronounce "ma-la-sa-na"[needs IPA]) - "Excretion Pose", "Relieving Pose", "Yoga Squat"
- Sanskrit: मलासन, malāsana (pronounce "ma-laa-sa-na"[needs IPA]), which would mean "Indian plum garland"[web 2]
- Sanskrit: मालासन, mālāsana (pronounce "maa-laa-sa-na"[needs IPA]) - "Garland Pose"; according to Iyengar, the name mālāsana derives from the arms "hanging from the neck like a garland."
The "a" may be pronounced either as /a/ or /aː/:[note 1]
- मल mala, pronounce "ma-la"[needs IPA] - "dirt, dust, impurity, secretion"[web 4]
- मला malā, pronounce "ma-laa"[needs IPA] - "Indian Plum (Flacourtia indica - Bot.)[web 2]
- माला mālā, pronounce "maa-laa"[needs IPA] - "garland, necklace"[web 5]
This asana is a squat with heels flat on the floor and hip-width apart (or slightly wider if necessary), toes pointing out on a diagonal. The torso is brought forward between the thighs, elbows are braced against the inside of the knees, and the hands press together in front of the chest in Añjali Mudrā.
The Yoga Journal says the malasana stretches the ankles, groins and back, tones the belly. It also cautions about using the asana when there are lower back or knee injuries.[web 6]
The mālāsana can be used as a preparation for the bhujapidasana.
The Sritattvanidhi, a 19th century book on yoga-asanas, gives a different picture for the mālāsana at plate no.44. In this picture, the handpalms are placed flat on the floor, arm stretched upright, and the whole body balancing on the hands, while the legs are held close to the body, with the heels hanging down from a position close to the shoulders. This asana is also known as bhujapidasana, the "shoulder press."[note 3]
- The Shree Bindu Sewa Sansthan Ashram also gives the following interpretation:[web 3]
- Iyengar mentions this as variant II.
- In this position, the arms are indeed "hanging from the neck like a garland," in contrast to Iyengar's squatting mālāsana, let alone the popular upavesasana.
- DiTuro, daniel; Yang, Ingrid (2012), Hatha Yoga Asanas: Pocket Guide for Personal Practice, Human Kinetics
- Gavalas, Elaine (2003), The Yoga Minibook for Longevity: A Specialized Program for a Healthier, Vital You, Simon & Schuster, ISBN 978-0-7432-2699-8
- Iyengar, B.K. (1979), Light on Yoga, Unwin Paperbacks
- Ramaswami, Srivatsa; Krishnamacharya, T. (2005), The complete book of vinyasa yoga: an authoritative presentation, based on 30 years of direct study under the legendary yoga teacher Krishnamacharya, Da Capo Press, ISBN 978-1-56924-402-9
- Sjoman, N.E. (1999), The Yoga Tradition of the Mysore Palace, Abhinav Publications
- Iyengar, B. K. S. (2005), Illustrated Light On Yoga, HarperCollins, ISBN 978-81-7223-606-9
- Saraswati, Swami Satyananda (2003), Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha, Nesma Books India, ISBN 978-81-86336-14-4
- Saraswati, Swami Satyananda (2004), A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya, Nesma Books India, ISBN 978-81-85787-08-4