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For the area of Madrid in Spain, see Malasaña.

Mālāsana, or malasana, is a term for various squatted āsanas.[1][2] The term is being used in various western transliterations, and may refer to various asanas, all involving a squatted position.

The term malasana is most commonly used for the "regular squat pose," also called upavesasana,[web 1][3] 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 mālāsana, or "Garland Pose", is used for two slightly different āsanas, either with the hands folded around the heels,[4] or with the arms folded around the legs while holding the hands together at the back,[5][2] also called kanchyasana ("golden belt pose").[2]

The term mālāsana is also used in the Sritattvanidhi to describe the bhujapidasana, the "shoulder press",[6] in which the hands are placed at the bottom, the body balancing on the hands, and the legs resting on the shoulders.[7]



Mālāsana is a compound of two Sanskrit terms, mālā and āsana, The transliteration and translation from Sanskrit to English gives rise to two different meanings or translations, since the Sanskrit "a" may be pronounced in two ways, the nuance of which is lost when the macron is left:

  • "ā", pronounced "/aː/", "aa"
  • "a", pronounced "/a/", "a"

The English transliteration "mala" may refer to the following Sanskrit terms:[note 1]

Three variant transliterations of "mālāsana" can be found in English:

  • Malasana, This is the most common name to be used in English, but is incorrectly transliterated.
  • Malāsana, Sanskrit: मलासन (pronounce "ma-laa-sa-na"[needs IPA]), which is the correct spelling of the compound mala and āsana according to the sandhi rules. This would translate as "Excretion Pose", "Relieving Pose", "Yoga Squat",[8] which in fact is Upavesasana. Incidentally, this could also mean "Indian plum garland" as the compound of malā and āsana. [web 4]
  • Mālāsana, Sanskrit: मालासन (pronounce "maa-laa-sa-na"[needs IPA]), a compound of mālā and āsana, which means "Garland Pose".[9] According to Iyengar, the name mālāsana derives from the arms "hanging from the neck like a garland."[9] The term mālāsana has also been used to refer to bhujapidasana,[7] a pose in which the legs seem to be hanging from the neck.


The term mālāsana may refer to four different asanas:[web 1][1][7][9][2]


The term malasana is most commonly used for the "regular squat pose," also called upavesasana,[web 1][3] 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.

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]

Mālāsana I/Kanchyasana[edit]

In the first variant, the hands are folded together at the back, while the chin touches the floor.[10][web 1] This asana is also called kanchyasana ("golden belt pose").[2]

Mālāsana II[edit]

In the second variant, the feet are placed at the floor, one takes a squatted position, folds the hands around the heels, and touches the floor with the chin.[4][note 2]


The Sritattvanidhi, a 19th-century book on a number of subjects including asanas,[note 3] gives a different picture for an āsana called mālāsana at plate no.44.[7] In this picture, the palms 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,[12] the "shoulder press."[11][note 4] The mālāsana can be used as a preparation for the bhujapidasana.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Shree Bindu Sewa Sansthan Ashram also gives the following interpretation:[web 2]
    • मल mala, pronounce "ma-la"[needs IPA] - excrement, shit
    • माला mālā, pronounce "maa-laa"[needs IPA] - garland, necklace, rosary
  2. ^ Iyengar mentions this as variant II.[4]
  3. ^ According to Sjoman, the Sritattvanidhi may have been written by Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar (1794-1868).[11] It contains pictures of asanas linked together in series and is considered one of the oldest examples of vinyasa.[11]
  4. ^ In this position, the arms are indeed "hanging from the neck like a garland,"[9] in contrast to Iyengar's squatting mālāsana, let alone the popular upavesasana.


  1. ^ a b Iyengar 1979, p. 261-267.
  2. ^ a b c d e Ramaswami & Krishnamacharya 2005, p. 28.
  3. ^ a b Kaminoff & Kaminoff 2013.
  4. ^ a b c Iyengar 1979, p. 266.
  5. ^ Iyengar 1979, p. 261-266.
  6. ^ a b DiTuro & Yang 2012, p. 128.
  7. ^ a b c d Sjoman 1999, p. 27.
  8. ^ & Gavalas 2003, p. 174.
  9. ^ a b c d Iyengar 1979, p. 267.
  10. ^ Iyengar 1979, p. 262-266.
  11. ^ a b c Sjoman 1999, p. 40.
  12. ^ Iyengar 1979, p. 280-282.


Printed sources
  • 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 
  • Kaminoff, Leslie; Kaminoff, Matthew (2013), Yoga-Anatomie: Ihr Begleiter durch die Asanas, Bewegungen und Atemtechniken, Riva Verlag 
  • 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 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]