People like to give many definitions to what Yoga means. I believe the definition means Yoke, but I have read that Sanskrit can be almost mystical and intangible, so many people take that word into broader and more descriptive or less descriptive meanings. I have heard that it means to unite, or self realization, or that it simply means a path of sorts. I believe that in todays world we put so much meaning and words and we always want to fill up spaces and we want to label things and we want to know, to know to know. And then something happens, after a while. In Yoga. You want less words, less meanings, you want less descriptions, less small talk, and your mind stops judging or trying to explain and you come to a place deep inside and it is still and suddenly you realize what Yoga really is.
Many years ago when i was a little girl in Ashville, in deep states of anxiety and fear, loneliness, i would go out into the cornfields, the wind blowing through the leaves, i would hunker down into this pose, now i call this an asana, i would squat deep into my hips and bring my hands to my heart center and bow my head, i felt a connection. i WAS connected, i lost the sense of aloneness and i would sit there until the feeling passed…..and it always did. Today we don’t know how to wait till a feeling passes, we use an arsenal of distractions to move away from discomfort. These poses bring us to…peace…this is yoga…
Malasana or Garland is a deep squat, actually the deepest squat available in Yoga that is of equality to each side of the Sacrum. In America we have an enormous amount of low back pain, often a symptom of subluxations of the lumbar spine or discs that are sliding off to one side or the other between the vertebrae, or even worse, stage three and four of degeneration that sometimes can not be reversed. New studies are finding out that this is caused from our lack of squatting in everyday life. The statistics in the United States are upward of 40% low back pain after the age of thirty, and chronic low back pain in our middle age is extremely high compared to India and China. The reasons for this is thought to be because in these countries people squat deeply in everyday life, including work, play, gardening. These countries do not sit in chairs all day or drive around in cars. Many walk, ride bikes and are always in movement in flow throughout the day opposed to stagnancy. Hospitals around the country, including our very own SOMC has spent thousands of dollars buying stand up desks for their employees because they are well aware of what is happening in our health systems to employees that are seated constantly in desks. Frankly it is horrible for the lumbar spine and low back.
When working with my clients, if I am unaware of their occupation, I can almost always feel when they are working in desk, frankly I can tell within the first few minutes of questioning them or even assessing their body, posture, and alignement. It is always a recommendation on my end that they stand up and stretch and move for 5 minutes to every hour of seat, and I urge them to please begin a Yoga practice that will accommodate their lifestyle or get them on the path of a good stretch in their daily routine.
Malasana Pose is a full on hip opener. When all four points of the feet are rested deep into the earth and the hips are allowed to sink and gravitate in a restful and relaxed way toward the earth, the heart lifts and the spine extends, there is a feeling of rest and peace in the body. There is a surrender here. I softly urge my students to begin in the beginning of Yoga allowing the heals to lift as long as their spine is extended and then as they continue their practice they can begin to soften their inner thighs and hips and allow their feet to come fully onto the earth. What a precious pose. And , on the path of Yoga, once you truly own Malasana there becomes a sweet spot where you can be in the position for an extended time, even a few minutes. It is a Pose in our practice to honor and cherish.