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Get Down On It

Posted by terrepruitt on February 4, 2014

Did you sing it?  When I began to write this post the first thing I thought of is what I often think of when I sit down to share something on my blog and that is WHICH way do I want to describe it.  As I have said numerous times there are different ways to do things and you can check the web, books, magazines, and other places and you will see different instructions.  So while I was glancing at the different pictures what popped into my head was “GET DOWN ON IT!”  There really is no “it” in this position.  That is just what popped into my head, then as I was typing it . . . I was singing.  Of course, you were singing too as you read it right?  Please stop here and take a few minutes to Get Down On It!

Ok, now that you are back.  Let’s talk about the Garland Pose.  This is an instinctive position for the human body and one that gets abandoned as we age.  As I type, I see myself writing at least three posts about it, not the Garland Pose specifically, but this position.  I am starting with the Garland Pose.

The Garland Pose or Malasana is a yoga asana.  This pose can easily be described as a low, deep, or full squat.  I have posted about squats before, but the squats I was talking about previously were not full squats.  I think of those ones more as “weight training” squats.  Either doing them with weights or on a BOSU and not going all the way down.  The legs are not fully “folded” in that type of squat.

In the Garland Pose the legs are folded to where the back of the calf touches the back of the thigh.

Remember there are different ways to do this, the main goal for ankle and hip flexibility is full foot on the floor, legs folded with knees wide.  So these instructions are going to start with feet flat on the floor.  Place your feet about shoulder width apart (not wider than).  Have your toes pointing just slightly out on the diagonal.  Then lower your buttocks down, keeping your knees wide.

If it is not just a matter of “lowering your buttocks down” as in, this is not easy for you there are things to do to allow you to practice getting into that position.  One way is to fold over, bending at the hips, and place your hands on the ground then lower your tush down.  If that is not a comfortable option you can put your hands on the seat of a chair and lower your butt until it is comfortable.  With each try, go lower.  Eventually you will be using elbows on the chair.  With this method you have to be cautious with the chair.  If you are using it to hold your weight you have to make certain it will not move or tip over on you.  So use a secure chair.

If not the fold over or chair technique, you can use a strap or something secured around a door knob.  Hold onto that as you learn to lower yourself down.  There are many precautions to take when using a door knob so make sure you think about all of them (strap not slipping off, door knob not popping off, door secure – not opening, no one walking in the door you are using — and more, so please be careful if using this technique).  With a secure strap you can work your way down slowly or in increments.

Once down, center your torso in between your knees and thighs.  Your knees are wide.  Place your elbows at your knees hands in Añjali Mudra or prayer position.  Embrace the beauty of posture that is yoga and lengthen your spine.  Lift the crown of your head up, reach the neck longer, lower the shoulders as they pull back, lift the ribs off of the hips, all the while your tail reaching for the earth.  Stay as long as you are comfortable.

Another modification to practice is to put a folded towel or blanket under your heels until you are able to put your heels down.  One of the reasons this position gets abandoned as we get older is our calf muscles get shortened and/or tight.  In some people high heels are the cause of that.

(11/17/21: Click Garland Or Malasana Or Squat for a picture.)

This pose is beautiful for some many reasons.  To name a few; it helps with balance, it opens the hips, it improves flexibility in the ankles, it can transport you back to when you were a child and did not hesitant to squat to see what was on the ground!

When you are done push up to standing.  If that is not an option, I recommend getting up any way that is comfortable for you.  Eventually with practice you will get stronger and find many ways to rise.  Also with practice you might find yourself using the squat to pick things up instead of just bending over.  Remember it is a practice so you don’t have to save all the moves for the mat, incorporate them into your day.

So did you sing?  When practicing this pose how far can you get down?  Are you utilizing either the chair or the door knob technique?

10 Responses to “Get Down On It”

  1. niachick said

    Ha ha!! Yes, I sang. Get Down On It! And danced, too (chair danced!). It took quite a bit of time for me to be able to get down on it or squat (or Standing position when speaking of the 5 Stages). My hips and my knees would also warn me not to go to far. With practice, I can now get down on it with both feet in a whole foot position on the floor and my rear down so that my spine is straight. I’ve been teaching for 13 years now and I’ve probably been able to finally squat effectively for the last 6 years. Amazing what the body will allow when it has been given the tools to perform. Thanks Terre!


    • You have said that before. And I ask that you keep saying that. Keep telling that story here, please. So many people give up on things when they can’t do them right away. The word PRACTICE often gets ignored because many of us want to run before we crawl, we want to jump right in and DO, so not being able to keeps us from trying at all. Having you share that it tooks you years to gain the flexibility is so helpful, I believe. Thank you for sharing your story again. Squatting comfortably is a big indicator of hip health.

      Ya can’t help but sing it! Thanks for visiting!


      • niachick said

        Oh goodness, there were sooooo many things I couldn’t do in Nia when I first started teaching, but my mentor (Barb Wesson) kept telling me, just practice and eventually one day you’ll just be able to do them! Squatting was definitely one move!!! Jazz Square (not one of the specific 52 moves; I think they call it a Fast Clock now – moving to different numbers in a Jazz Square). That move eluded me for quite some time. Now I love it!!


        • See? Practice. That is what some people forget. 🙂

          I am puzzled by the thought that Jazz Square is now called a “Fast Clock”. What happened to the Fast Clock? If Fast Clock is being replaced by Jazz Square does the Fast Clock just not get named?

          I must have learned the Jazz Square somewhere in my dance classes when I was young. I love teaching it because when people finally “get it” their faces are precious!


          • niachick said

            In the new routine Feeling, Kelle Oien calls the Jazz Square-ish move that she does in Soultrippin’ a Fast Clock and she calls out the numbers on the clock…later she calls it a Fast Clock Jazz Square. Jazz Square is not one of the 52 moves, thus the need to call it a Fast Clock — it really is a Fast Clock since the foot placement does not go back to center like a Slow Clock does.


            • Hmmm. Sounds like the creation of chaos! Bwwwhhhhhhaaaaaaa! To me there is a Jazz Square – the standard dance move, that, when called out, many people understand. It is where the feet cross. And there is the Nia Fast Clock – which has no cross-overs. Not all moves we do in a routine are part of the Nia 52 moves, obviously . . . that would make for some very dull routines. Not that the compilation of moves Nia calls Nia 52 Moves are dull or boring, just that dancing and moving and LIFE are comprised of many more moves than those 52 Moves.

              I will have to see this new move Fast Clock Jazz Square that Nia has invented —- or decided to re-name . . .

              I will order Feeling today. I hear it is GREAT!


              • niachick said

                Hi Terre, I’m disputing that there is a Jazz Square! But it is not one of the 52 moves. When you’re doing the Jazz Square you are placing your foot on a number on the clock, so Kelle calls it “Fast Clock” and later calls its Fast Clock Jazz Square.


                • Huh? What?

                  When doing the Jazz Square you could say you are placing your foot on a corner of a “square” or a number on the clock. As I have shown in my post (Jazz Square Using The Clock). The feet cross over each other and both feet are used. But the Fast Clock — at least the OLD Fast Clock — was done one foot at a time, no crossing of feet, just 12:00 / 6:00 / 9:00 or 12:00 / 6:00 / 3:00. So by calling the Jazz Square a Fast Clock they are changing their definition of Fast Clock . . . which they are allowed to do, because they can call things anything they would like. And they seem to like to change things up a bit and re-name things. Like rebranding. But – for me – when wanting my students to move in a Jazz Square, I’ll stick to the standard name for it. If they are making up a new move and they are calling it the Fast Clock Jazz Square, then we will learn a new move.


              • niachick said

                Ooops…and I wanted to add — the Fast Clock doesn’t way that there are no cross-overs. The Fast Clock does not go back to center. It’s all a new way of thinking about the 52 Moves!!! Brain Games!!!


                • Huh? What? This comment is not clear to me either.

                  The “Fast Clock” I am familiar with does not use both feet — at the same time, nor do the feet cross over. The Jazz Square uses both feet in one Jazz Square and the feet cross. As I said in the last comment, I am familiar with Fast Clock being (Left foot) 12:00 / 6:00 / 9:00 or (Right Foot) 12:00 / 6:00 / 3:00. And as I understood it the thing that made it the “Fast” clock was not going back to center as one does in the slow clock. I guess “one” Fast Clock is probably defined as Left THEN Right, but in a Jazz Square BOTH feet are used whether it is a “Left Jazz Square” or a “Right Jazz Square”.

                  I actually don’t use either term; Fast Clock, Slow Clock, I just tell them where to step (“12, 6, 9, etc.”). I also say, “Front, back, side/out/left”, but not fast or slow clock. That is a good thing for me to focus on. I think I will do that. Now that I have some very consistent students I can practice my Nia 52 Moves verbiage . . . but I might have to skip the clock part now altogether since they are changing the definition. Ha, ha, ha, ha. Too funny.

                  I know you know all of this so I guess I need to see this new move or whatever . . . . but a “Jazz Square” is still a Jazz Square. 🙂


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