Ardha Malasana: Half Squat Pose
A beautiful pose and a wonderful release for the entire body, especially the legs and lower back, Ardha Malasana (are-dah Mah-LAHS-anna), or Half Squat pose, isn’t as commonly practiced as the more traditional full version of the posture, Malasana. However, that doesn’t mean that this beneficial posture should be overlooked. A great way to strengthen and lengthen the body, Ardha Malasana promotes balance, stability, and flexibility.
Philosophy + Origin
Practicing Ardha Malasana, especially when you allow the body to flow freely from one side to the other, is a wonderful way to begin to understand the concept of a “moving prayer”. While malas, or prayer beads, are used in many spiritual practices as a way to help keep the mind engaged, repetitive physical movement can have the same effect. The sequence of poses, both in Surya Namaskar and Chandra Namaskar, allow the brain to relax and let go, much like moving fingers from one prayer bead to the next. Whether you practice a flowing version of Ardha Malasana, or use the posture as part of a Moon Salutation, give your body and mind enough time to find rhythm and ease so that you can enjoy the benefits of a physical embodiment of prayer and meditation.
- Use a block underneath your sacrum to add more stability and help balance.
- To intensify the posture, add a bind with your arms around the bent knee and lower back.
- For a more lunar or restorative version of the posture, allow your upper body to drape towards the ground with the arms relaxed.
CONTRAINDICATIONS AND CAUTIONS:
- Hip, pelvis, hamstring and knee injuries
Practicing a gentle, flowing version of Ardha Malasana in the evening is a great addition to Chandra Namaskar, or Moon Salutations. Like Malasana, Ardha Malasana promotes groundedness by strengthening the Muladhara Chakra. As you practice the pose, focus on creating a calmness and steadiness both in the physical body and in the mind.
- Begin standing on your mat with legs 3 to 4 feet apart, like you are preparing for Prasarita Padottanasana. With the outer edges of your feet parallel to the short edges of your mat, lengthen the spine and broaden across your collarbones. As you exhale, begin to bring your hands down to the mat, keeping the spine long.
- Bend your left knee as you extend your right leg long. Allow your hips to shift to the left. Press evenly through the sole of the left foot as you flex your right toes towards your body. Engage the legs actively to safely deepen the stretch.
- As the legs continue to engage, reach your hands off the floor, bringing them to your heart in Anjali mudra or to any mudra of your choice. You can also come into a bind by bringing the upper left arm in front of your left shin and reaching your right arm back behind your lower back, clasping the hands together or using the right hand to hold the left wrist.
- Engage Mula Bandha to help draw energy up and to improve your balance in this posture. Hold the pose for several breaths before shifting your weight and flowing to the opposite side.
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- Baddha Konasana
- Prasarita Padottanasana
- Upavistha Konasana
- Adho Mukha Svanasana
- Ardha = Half
- Mala = Garland, Rosary
- Asana = Pose
- Strengthens the lower body, especially psoas muscles
- Lengthens hamstrings
- Compresses the knee for joint health
- Opens hips and pelvis
- Promotes balance and stability
- Strengthens Muladhara chakra
- Calms the mind
- Releases built up tension
- Helps prepare body and mind for sleep
Also known as the Primal Shabda, chanting Om (Aum) is to acknowledge the Divine Presence in the universe. This sound is said to help bring you closer to wholeness and other elevated states of awareness.
MUDRA: Anjali Mudra
One of the most common mudras practiced in yoga, Anjali mudra is considered to be an offering of respect. By bringing the palm of the left hand to equally press into the palm of the right hand, you join the two halves of the body, yoking opposites in order to create one unified whole. This mudra is often used to promote and increase spirituality.
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