Malasana or Garland Pose
Garland pose is essentially a squatting pose. The movements of the pose stretch the low back and the hips, knees and ankles bend deeply. In my own practice, I like this pose to release my lower back from tension and tightness especially on one side of my lumbar spine, due to scoliosis. This pose also strengthens the abdominal muscles.
One obstacle to getting into this pose is tightness in the hips. The hip joint needs to bend deeply into hip flexion and the inner thighs are stretched. While there are other aspects to address, such as the heels down, I would like to focus on a way I have found helpful for my students to get more movement in the hip joints and to release the low back.
To prepare the hips, sit down on two blocks in a squatting position. Start with the feet hip width apart. Keep the toes pointing straight ahead. First, reach the arms forward, moving the spine closer to parallel to the floor. Second, release the upper body down between the legs towards the floor.
Now, if possible, sit on just one block and repeat. To approximate more the final pose, bring the feet together and keep the inner edges of the heels together. Once the inner thighs are releasing to the side, squeeze the inner thighs into the side ribs. Draw the crown of the head towards the floor. In the final pose, take the pose without the block and with the heels down, using a blanket to support under the heels as needed.
If there is tightness in the hips or back, take the same sequence seated in a chair.