Garland pose, known as malasana in Sanskrit, is a seated hip opener that increases flexibility in the hips and range of motion in the legs. While the pose’s main benefit is increasing flexibility in the hip flexor and rotator muscles, the pose stretches the foot, lower back, and gluteal muscles as well.
This seated posture is also a restorative pose that releases tension from the hips. Women, especially, tend to store the body’s stress in the hips. Hip openers like bound angle pose combat this tendency by externally rotating the hip joint and building long, lean, and supple hip flexor and rotator muscles.
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Garland pose lengthens the external hip rotators and the hip flexors for all around flexible, open hips. It eases practitioners into the intense hip opener of poses like bound angle pose (baddha konasana) and pigeon pose (eka pada rajakapotasana). If practiced consistently, the pose gently improves pelvic alignment and prevents pulled groin muscles.
Because it focuses on the hip muscles, the pose is traditionally thought to improve urinary, digestive, and reproductive health by stimulating circulation to those systems. Unique from other hip openers, garland pose also stretches the muscles surrounding the ankle joints, such as the Achilles tendon, to help prevent ankle injuries.
The forward fold motion of forward folded garland pose introduces a second set of benefits targeting the stomach, lower back, and buttocks. The fold engages the abdominal muscles and, as you draw the stomach inwards, it massages the abdominal organs. The pose also lengthens the erector spinae muscles and gluteal muscles, relieving lower back and sciatica pain.
As a restorative pose, garland pose releases muscle tension from the hips, stretches the feet, buttocks, and back, and relaxes the mind. The posture includes a simultaneous external rotation of the hips and a unique ankle stretch that loosens muscles prone to tightness.
Do not attempt garland pose if you:
- have a lower back injury or have serious, persistent lower back problems
- have a hernia
- have a groin injury
- have a knee injury
- have sacroiliac joint dysfunction
Garland pose rotates the hips externally. Internal rotations, such as lion pose (simhasana), counter this rotation. Lion pose is a double internal rotation of the hips, so the exact opposite motion of garland pose. Pairing these two poses stretches the hip rotators more comprehensively.
Garland pose is also a preliminary pose for deeper hip openers. Consider sequencing garland pose before bound angle pose, pigeon pose, cow face pose (gomukhasana), or side splits to gently open the hips for more intense pulls.