Malasana (Garland Pose) registers as 8* on BKS Iyengar’s 60* scale of difficulty in Light on Yoga.
BKS Iyengar performs this yoga pose differently than how we typically approach it during a yoga class. In most yoga classes, Malasana is performed as a more upright squat, rather than a forward fold.
The most noticeable difference between these two approaches appears in our heels. Performed upright, Malasana challenges many practitioners to bring their entire foot onto the ground. The asana requires a great deal of ankle flexibility, not to mention leg strength. But, when we practice Malasana as a forward fold, the challenge of resting our feet on the ground increases exponentially. The forward moving weight of our torsos tends to shift weight off our heels and onto the balls of our feet.
If, like me, you find that folding forward in Malasana lifts your heels off the mat, try either the more upright version of Malasana or the forward fold with a blanket underneath your heels. Grounding your heels into the earth or into the blanket will preserve the pose’s benefits to your ankle flexibility.
In Malasana I, rest the backs of your hands on the ground.
In Malasana 2, clasp your hands around the backs of your ankles.