Prenatal Yoga – Hip-opening Squat (Malasana)

    Benefits and Uses
    Use this hip-opening squat during your pregnancy to release tension throughout the hips, lower back, and ankles. The pose can be an intense opener, or also more of a passive one, supported by props underneath your seat.

    Directions
    Come to squat on your mat with your feet about hips distance apart from one another, and try to bring your heels to the floor (if your heels do not reach the floor simply place a blanket under them to support them in a position that is comfortable for you). Your feet do not need to be parallel to one another in the squat and your toes will most likely be angled towards the upper corners of your mat. Give your belly plenty of space (especially during the later months of your pregnancy) by widening the space between your knees and separating your feet further if necessary. Bring your palms together in front of your chest (heart), so that your elbows push against the inside of your knees in order to intensify the opening of the hips. Stay here for 30 seconds to one minute and feel the juicy stretch throughout your hips and back.

    • Breath: Use ujjayi breath during this pose to help you breathe calmly and fully. Mentally send breath to any parts of your body that may be feeling intense sensation in the pose in order to create space.
    • Modifications: Try sitting on a thick book or folded blanket to feel the stretch without using strength to hold yourself up. This is an especially good option towards the end of your pregnancy when the weight of your uterus may be harder to support. Keep the position of your elbows against your inner thighs in order to help your back remain straight and deepen the stretch.
    • Release: There are several ways to come out of the pose so use the one that feels right for you (or create your own!). The simplest and safest way to release is to place your hands on the ground (either at your sides or behind you) and use them for support as your unbend your legs and come to sit. If you felt really comfortable in the pose, you may also try rocking back onto your seat and then taking a few spinal rocks to lightly massage your spine (hold your body in a ball shape and rock back and forth a few times on your back). Some women may even enjoy using their leg strength to come up to stand, while others may find that this rapid movement from squatting to standing can leave you feeling a little lightheaded.