Malasana Pose what does it really mean? Why do it?

For some reason I have had this pose on my mind, so I thought I would write about. I can’t ignore the constant niggling, which I figure is the voice of some soul out there that wants to know more about this asana or pose. Malasana, if you are unfamiliar with this shape, is basically a deep squat where your knees are out wide, and your hands are in Anjali mudra/prayer position. Another analogy to consider might be the image of a catcher for your favorite Major League Baseball team. In more crazy advanced variations there is a bind, which looks terribly uncomfortable and I personally would never try such a thing unless I had a team of medical emergency personnel surrounding me. For many this posture is troublesome on their knees or ankles; however, we can make this more accessible using yoga blocks or a folding chair. It is very important to squat each day because it has numerous potential health benefits including good digestion and elimination, it stretches the hips, back, ankles and inner thighs. Unfortunately, in our culture we rarely challenge our knee range of motion below 90 degrees as we sit too much, and our toilets are set at an incorrect height to have a proper bowel movement. All these facts completely blow my mind and I feel like it is my mission in life to talk to people about such things.  That brings me to the meaning of the word Malasana in Sanskrit. For your reference, Sanskrit is an ancient language that some consider the mother language or the root of all languages. Most modern yoga instructors are taught that the word Malasana means ‘garland pose’, not so fast! Upon further research and my studies in Ayurveda, one of the oldest healing systems, Mala really means ‘waste material’. Some of the primary malas are sweat, urine and feces. Ah hah! Now with this information this pose begins to make perfect sense, does it not? When you are in the full expression of the pose you are quite literally poised perfectly for pooping! We as human being are meant to eliminate waste in a squatting position not perched on a porcelain throne or gold for some.  No wonder there are so many over the counter products on the market for laxatives or stool softeners. I do realize that people’s diet is part of the problem; however, angle plays a huge part. To dive a little deeper, let’s look at the direction of movement, winds or 5 sub energies called the prana vayus, which you will find in the tradition of yoga and in Ayurveda.  These 5 directions that energy moves are udana (upward), apana (downward), samana (think digestion), vyana (outward) and prana (in through the senses). When you are in Malasana you are working with the apana flow of energy, which is that sweet downward movement the you created by lining up the channels of your body to create the optimal condition for elimination. It is quite beautiful how it all works and how grounding it can be. Please remember, be mindful of your body and only work with this pose in your own way. If you are unsure how to adapt it to your body, do reach out to an instructor for guidance.

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