Late summer signifies a shift from the hedonistic high spirits of endlessly long hours of sunshine, to a more focused and productive time of year. Although most of us have long lost the intrinsic link between our food production and survival, back along this would be a time of harvesting, pickling, and preserving the glut of summer and stockpiling and secreting it away in dark larders and kitchen corners, thereby securing our safe passage through the cold and barren winter months.
In our yoga practice, we can pay homage to nature’s calendar by holding the intention of ‘harvesting our fruits’ in mind as we practice. There are an endless variety of poses and sequences that can help to support and embody this intention, but the asana that most closely evokes it to me is that of Malasana/Yogic squat. Physically, the pose conjures up memories of men and women working in the fields in Nepal during harvest time, saris and lungis tucked out the way, in a deep squat allowing them to work close to the ground, heaping their baskets high with produce to sell at market later that day. Emotionally, the pose releases a great deal of tightness in the hips, paving the way for us to recognise and celebrate abundance.
A degree of openness in the hips is necessary to ease into the full pose, and once you are down there, some integration is needed through the legs and the core-line to keep the posture supported and safe. It’s this blending of abundance and integrity that makes Malasana a good choice for September’s theme. The journey to Malasana is likely to take some time to achieve, patiently waiting for the body to open for you, much like the toil and cultivation of summer agriculture. When Malasana becomes an accessible posture, there is a sense of satisfaction and that hard work and perseverance has paid off, and a chance to rest in the posture harvesting the fruits of a more open and receptive body and mind.
Please warm up with several rounds of sun salutations and hip opening postures before attempting this posture. Malasana may not be suitable for you if you have problems with your knees. Listen to your body and journey slowly at all times.
- Start in Tadasana and then separate the feet a little wider than hip distance apart, turn the toes out to face the top corners of the mat.
- Take a few deep breaths here, sending the attention to the hips and lower body.
- Inhale to prepare, and then exhaling, begin to bend the knees and sink the hips slowly towards the floor, you may need to widen your stance a little, feel free to use the hands for support.
- Try and bring the heels down to the floor (again, widen the stance to make this more accessible)
- Once the hips are lowered, spend a breath or two sinking into the hip creases and getting comfortable and receptive. Then root down through the feet and draw up through mula and uddiyana bandhas (roughly pelvic floor and lower belly) to bring some integration and power to the pose.
- Try to lengthen your spine and draw the shoulder blades onto the back and away from the ears to keep the chest broad and the back of the neck long.
- Option to press the elbows gently into the insides of the knees to open the hips and broaden the chest even more.
- Bring the hands to the heart center, palms touching, or in lotus mudra as shown in the picture.
- Close the eyes and spend 5-10 deep belly breaths in the posture. Direct the breath into the pelvic region and feel it softening and opening with every exhalation.
- Make your way out of the pose using the support of the hands and neutralise by taking a gentle standing forward fold.
By Jasmine Pradhan from stretchandthecity.co.uk
Jasmine teaches Hatha yoga (sometimes dynamic, sometimes slower) with an open heart and an open mind. She believes that every individual already has the tools they need to achieve true happiness and wellbeing, and that sometimes they just need a little help discovering them. She truly believes that a dedicated yoga practice can be the key to that toolbox, and aims to facilitate that discovery for her students.
Disclaimer: Always consult with your doctor before starting any new physical activity. Always practice under the supervision of a qualified teacher.