Listed in: Yoga for Back Pain, Sitting Yoga Postures, Yoga for Legs , Yoga for Digestive System, Yoga for Neck and Shoulder, Yoga for Flexibility, Prenatal Yoga, Yoga for Nervous System, Yoga for Swadhishthan Chakra
Malasana, Garland Pose, Squat Pose, Shitting Pose
At the base of this posture’s name, there is a big misunderstanding and a confusion of Sanskrit words. The commonly known but unfortunately wrong English term is ‘Garland Pose’.
The idea behind this translation is that ‘Malasana’ comes from the Sanskrit word Maalaa which would correctly be transcribed as ‘Maalaa’ and which indeed would be a garland. Where however in this pose do you see a necklace or garland? When being asked, some people say it is the pose of receiving a flower garland, a common form of honouring someone in India.
The truth however is that ‘Malasana’ comes from the Sanskrit word Mala which would be transcribed as ‘Mala’ and which would mean excrement or shit. Indeed, the traditional way of going to toilet in India is by squatting on the floor. yoga actually describes that in this posture, the intestines are in the best position to release all waste that is left after digestion. It is thus in reality a Shitting Pose.
माला = Mala (Maalaa) = Garland, Necklace, Rosary
मल = Mala = Excrement, Shit
By comparing the original writing, the Devanagari script, you can clearly see that the mistake happened in the transliteration where the English is lacking a proper writing for the long and short ‘a’.
The conclusion however is that in hundreds of modern English yoga books and popular yoga websites, for example Yoga Journal, Malasana is wrongly translated with ‘Garland Pose’.
By playing the audio file above you can hear the correct pronunciation.
Squat with your feet flat on the floor, the feet about the width of your hips apart from each other. Let your pelvis hang down with all your body weight. Bring your elbows in front of your knees and place your palms together in the pose of Namaste. Now make effort to bring your trunk in between your legs, look straight to the front and keep on smiling.
This yoga pose is especially good for pregnant women as a regular practice of this posture alleviates delivery. It helps you to open your hips and in the last days of pregnancy helps to make your baby feel the pull down – it can make the birth happen a bit earlier especially if the child is already late.
Malasana is also beneficial for women who are not pregnant and men as well! It strengthens your calves and ankles, your feet and your toes. It relaxes your lower back and the muscles simply feel the pull of gravity down towards earth.
Malasana – as its real name actually already tells - helps against constipation and brings your bowels again in the right rhythm so that the functions of your metabolism work properly.
The pose activates the second chakra which is related of course to our sexuality but even more to our feelings.
While you keep your feet flat, keep your body weight on your toes as much as possible.
If you get tired in this yoga pose, bring your body weight to the back on the heels for a while before you shift it back to the front. It will feel like swinging your weight in between your toes and heels which will not only help you giving comfort in the pose but also exercise your leg muscles.
People with bad knee injuries should avoid this posture.
Thank you for a detailed explanation of the sanskrit mistranslation. I believe that it was not done by mistake, but was deliberate. Those who wanted to popularize yoga didn\'t want to offend the western sensibilities, so they preferred a pleasant image like garland over the unpleasant subject of excretion. For the past 14 years I have been working to educate the public and the medical profession about the need to return to squat toilets. In the process, I have uncovered the cause of many western diseases that have baffled the medical profession. Since Indians are adopting western toilets in large numbers, they also need this knowledge, which is available at my website. Namaste!
Reply By Jonathan on September 28, 2014 05:10