Malasana or garland pose is known to most westerners as squat. When practiced regularly this standing posture strengthens the legs and stretches the ankles, groin and back. Squatting conditions the body in a way that relates to so many real-life activities, making it a great posture to develop efficiently in every day life.
To begin, warm up the target areas of this pose - the legs, ankles, groin and back. Cat/cow, sun salutations, warrior II, hero and bound foot are all good poses to start with. The idea is to increase blood flow and awareness in the body where it is needed to safely sit in the posture.
Once you are warm, grab your Chattra pranayama bolster and place it horizontally on your mat so the long edges of the bolster parallel the short edges of the mat.
Stand with your heels on the bolster, both feet slightly wider than the hips, or closer if that is sustainable. Rotate both legs at the hip joint so the feet turn out.
Bend your knees and open the thighs wider than the torso. Lean your torso forward so it snuggles between the inner thighs.
Shift weight into the outer edges of your feet and the heels. The pranayama bolster will open space in the ankles and legs to help you access and hold the pose more comfortably.
Place your hands together in front of your chest, palms touching in anjali mudra. Use the pressure of the hand pressing to help widen the legs and broaden your chest.
Gaze straight ahead and take smooth, steady breaths in and out of your nose.
If you have a bandha practice, malasana is a great pose to engage mulabandha.
Hold the pose for up to 1 minute and then press into the feet to rise back up to standing.
As a follow-up posture...bend your legs and fold over your thighs in uttanasana, forward fold.
The benefits of practicing malasana regularly and safely are enormous. On a physical level you will condition your body to work in a range of motion it was designed for while connecting with the ancestral roots of our foremothers and forefathers.