How To Do Garland Pose For A Lower Body Mobility Boost

Get low.

Originally Published: 
All the benefits of the hip-opening garland pose.
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Squats are a mainstay in most workout routines. But when you do squats in yoga, like garland pose, the move suddenly becomes about so much more than strengthening your booty. Garland pose is not only a deep stretch for your hips and legs, but it’s also grounding — and oddly relaxing.

Garland pose, also called a yogi squat or malasana, is an extra deep squat that brings you low to your mat. This posture also involves holding your hands in prayer pose, says Mikah Horn, MS, a yoga therapist, certified yoga teacher, and founder of Lifelong Yoga. It’s a nice one to hang out in as you breathe and meditate, and it also happens to be really good for your hips, ankles, and knees.

“The deep squat is a very functional, beneficial movement overall,” Horn tells Bustle. Dropping into this low pose provides the nicest stretch for your hips, groin, inner thighs, lower calves, and even your Achilles tendons, she says. The mega-bend in your leg also helps improve knee and ankle mobility over time. Because it’s a squat, garland pose is a great way to build strength in your legs, but Horn says it also strengthens the muscles in your feet, which have to work overtime to hold you steady.

As an added bonus, the yogi squat feels incredibly grounding. It brings you closer to the earth, connects your feet to your mat, and the prayer pose feels very peaceful, notes Horn. On TikTok, where garland pose has over 64 million views, many yoga instructors talk about how it releases the stored-up emotions from your hips, as well. The hips are said to store energy and emotion, so if you’ve been feeling off, angry, or upset, garland pose could be a good way to let it all go.

Keep scrolling below for more info about garland pose, as well as how to do it properly.

How To Do Garland Pose

As a stretchy hip opener, this pose can be tough to nail on the first few tries, and that’s OK. Here, Horn explains how to get into garland pose with good form.

- Stand with your feet about hip-distance apart with your toes slightly turned out.

- Bring your hands together at your chest.

- Bend your knees.

- Lower down towards your mat into a deep squat.

- Aim to press your heels down onto the floor.

- Press your palms together actively.

- Keep your back straight and your head lifted.

- Use your elbows to gently press your knees outward.

- Stay in the pose as you take slow, deep breaths.

How To Modify Garland Pose

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Garland pose may be a super deep stretch, but you don’t have to be extra flexible in order to do it. “It’s OK if your heels don’t touch the floor,” Horn says. “That’s very common and is usually due to limited ankle mobility.” While you may one day be able to squat with your heels down, there are plenty of ways to modify this pose in the meantime.

To get comfortable, place a folded blanket under your heels or roll up the end of your mat to create a cushion. “Sitting on blocks or a bolster will also take the strain off your knees and provide a little more support,” says Horn. Use props and feel free to shift around and find the right spot so that you feel grounded.

If a deep garland pose doesn’t feel quite right, Horn recommends lying on your back with your feet lifted up and pressed into a wall. This is one way to alleviate knee pain as you work on your flexibility.

If you’d like to go a little deeper, Horn suggests turning this pose into a forward fold by extending your arms forward and releasing your head down towards the mat. “You could also make garland pose more active by pressing your feet into the floor and lifting up a few inches,” she says. “Hold for a breath or two, slowly lower back down into the pose, and repeat. This will build lower body strength.”

Common Mistakes To Avoid

As you sink into garland pose, remember to keep your back as upright and straight as possible, so no rounding or collapsing of your shoulders. To maintain good posture, Horn recommends pressing your palms actively together, which will help you broaden across your collarbone. Also, imagine lengthening your spine from your tailbone to the top of your head.

Remember, there’s no requirement to press your heels to the floor, so resist the urge to force it. It’s always a good idea to stop if you feel any strain or pain in your back, hip, or knees, as well. Garland pose is all about feeling grounded and at ease, Horn says, so “find what feels good in your body, don’t be afraid to modify, and be patient with your progress.”

Studies referenced:

Endo, Y. (2020). The relationship between the deep squat movement and the hip, knee and ankle range of motion and muscle strength. J Phys Ther Sci. doi: 10.1589/jpts.32.391.


Mikah Horn, MS, yoga therapist, certified yoga teacher, founder of Lifelong Yoga

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