Stretch and strengthen your lower body, and improve your balance and stability with Half-Squat Pose…
Half-Squat Pose (Ardha Malasana) – also sometimes called Extended Leg Squat or Utthita Malasana – is less commonly seen than the full version (Malasana), but it provides a lovely stretch for the entire body, with a particular focus on the legs and lower back. This beginner-to-intermediate pose also strengthens the legs, stretches the hamstrings, opens up the hips and pelvic area, exercises your knee joints, and helps you build balance, stability, and flexibility. It is also thought to calm the mind, release stress and tension, and help prepare your body and mind for sleep, and it’s a great pose for the root chakra.
You can practice this pose as part of a yoga sequence, or by itself as a flow or “moving meditation”, shifting from one side to the other.
If you need to, you can place a block under your sacrum for added support and stability. For a more advanced version, you may to add a bind.
Those with hip, pelvis, hamstring, or knee injuries should use extra caution or avoid this pose.
How to Do Half-Squat Pose:
- 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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