This week’s pose of the week is an especially beneficial one. Known as the yogi squat, Malasana is a wonderful yoga pose that is both opening and strengthening. Though the pose itself may seem easy, we assure you that it takes time and practice to get the perfect position.
The yogi squat has been practiced for centuries and, if you’ve been to a yoga class, then you have probably practiced this pose at one point or another. Like so many other yoga poses, the yogi squat is amazing for several parts of the body and, when practiced regularly, can really help your body feel better and healthier.
Incorporating the yogi squat into your practice can really help you with balance and opening your hips. This article will take a look at all of the benefits of this pose, as well as how to properly do the pose, tips and tricks for doing it correctly and effectively, and modifications and variations of the pose. We will also look at moving into arm balance poses from the yogi squat! Let’s get started and take a look.
Benefits Of The Yogi Squat
As with all yoga poses, the yogi squat benefits certain parts of the body and can bring relief from pain, a nice, great feeling stretch, and so much more. Let’s take a look at some of the amazing benefits you can receive from practicing Malasana.
- Healthy Digestion: Yes, that’s right. The yogi squat affects your lower abdomen as it is centered in the belly region. Regularly stretching in this position can help to release gases trapped in your intestine and helps to eliminate unnecessary elements from your digestive tract.
- Strengthens The Lower Body: Because you are in a low squat position, your thighs are working while stretching at the same time. However, not only are your thighs working, but also your ankles, shins, and calf muscles. Also, your core is engaged to keep your body upright, strengthening it with practice and consistency.
- Relief During Pregnancy: This pose is an excellent one to practice throughout all three trimesters of pregnancy. According to Livestrong, a study was performed in 2015 showing that Malasana, along with 25 other poses, are good ways to reduce stress, depression, and anxiety during pregnancy. Also, it causes no harm to the mother or the fetus, so it is completely safe to practice.
- Better Posture: The yogi squat is a wonderful way to improve your posture. Because the pose is meant to bring your spine into a straight position and your hips balanced, your posture is automatically corrected if you are doing the pose in the correct way. This pose can be very effective for correcting your posture, especially if you sit at a desk all day. It is quite a relief for your back and spine.
- Boosts Metabolism: Malasana can help boost your metabolism by nurturing the endocrine glands. This position rubs and exerts pressure on the endocrine glands which, in turn, stimulates your metabolism, allowing your food digestive system to work well.
- Relieves Back Pain: If you sit at a computer all day long, then you are bound to have back pain. The yogi squat is an excellent way to relieve your back pain and prevent future pain. Because it aligns your spine and relieves pressure from your lower back, it can work quickly to get your back feeling as good as new.
- Grounds And Incites Calmness: While some yoga poses are meant to be energetic and uplifting, others are meant to be grounding, soothing, and calming. This pose is the latter. It is very grounding and will relieve stress and calm you down.
How To Do The Yogi Squat Correctly
In order to reap all of the amazing benefits from this yoga pose, you must first know how to get into the pose correctly. Follow these steps to practicing the perfect beginner’s variation of Malasana:
- Begin in mountain pose, standing with your feet a little further than hips width distance apart, your spine straight and pelvis tucked under slightly. Your feet should be splayed outward.
- Inhale your arms overhead and as you exhale, begin to squat down bringing your tailbone toward the floor. You want to make sure that your feet are flat on the ground and that your heels are not lifting up. If your heels begin to lift up, you can widen your stance to provide more room for the squat. You may not be able to squat all the way down at first, but practice will help.
- You can bring your palms together toward your heart center (anjali mudra) and your knees can be splayed out wide, stretching open your groin and hips.
- Stay in this position and breathe deeply for a while, or take any of the variations we will discuss further into this article.
This version of the yogi squat is the basic version that many yoga classes incorporate into their flows. There are, however, other variations and expressions of this pose that go even deeper. We will look at those in another section.
Tips & Tricks For Yogi Squat
While you may think that this pose is easy, it can be tricky to get yourself into the exact position. These tips and tricks will help you to do just that.
- Use your elbows to push your knees wide. In order to get a deeper hip opening stretch, you can put your hands in prayer position and stick your elbows out to the sides, pushing against your knees to open them more.
- If your heels lift up, use a towel underneath them for more support. In order to receive the full benefits and not tire your feet out, it is important to get your heels down to the ground. If that is not possible, you can put a folded up towel under them so that they have support and your feet aren’t stretching uncomfortably and working too hard.
- When going into full Malasana, use a block or rolled up blanket under your forehead for support as needed. If you are going into the full variation of the yogi squat (which we will look at in the next section), you can use either a block or blanket that is rolled up under your forehead if it does not reach the floor so as to avoid straining your neck.
Modifications & Variations for Yogi Squat
We have already looked at how to do the pose correctly, but here we will take a look at some modification in order to make the pose easier, as well as some other variations, including coming into the full variation.
Yogi Squat Modifications For Beginners
- If you have trouble with balance, practice in front of a wall or a piece of furniture and reach forward. This will help you to maintain balance and practice the yogi squat fully until you gain balance enough to practice without the added support.
- If you feel pressure in your knees, place a folded towel behind them before squatting down. This will relieve any pressure and make it more comfortable.
- If you can’t get all the way down with your heels still on the ground, try only squatting down halfway. Yes, your legs will get more of a workout, but the more you practice, the easier it will become.
Yogi Squat Variations
- For more of a challenge, you can try keeping your feet and legs together as you squat. This is a much more difficult pose because it is harder to balance, but it is a great lower body strengthening pose.
- For a bit of a spinal twist, you can wrap your right arm around the front of your right (bent) leg and bring your left arm around your back, clasping your hands by your right hip. Then change sides and repeat on the other one.
- To get into the full variation of Malasana, you will come into the variation that we listed above. From there, you will reach your arms forward (in between your legs) and place your palms flat on the ground. Begin to lean forward in between your legs and bend toward the ground. You will eventually rest your forehead on the ground and remain there for several breaths. This variation will take quite a bit of practice, but the benefits are well worth it.
We have found another amazing instruction video from HMFYoga
The yogi squat, or Malasana, is a well-known pose that has been practiced for centuries. In fact, if you travel to places such as India or Indonesia, many people will hang out in this position, even in public. While this may seem odd to people from Western cultures, it is entirely normal and has been for a very long time. It is a healthy way to sit and is very good for the body, including the spine and lower body.
If you want to deepen your practice, improve your posture, tone your lower body, and improve your digestive system, then the yogi squat should be practiced regularly, whether in your yoga practice, or just sitting at home. Your back will thank you and you will feel much better and more flexible.