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 you 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.
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?