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Modify Malasana if needed to find safe alignment for your body.
If you experience knee pain …
Try using a prop to support the insides of your knees. Roll a blanket, towel, or sticky mat and place it in the crease of both knees (if you put it under just one knee, you will create imbalance in the pelvis and spine). As you lower into the pose, make sure the prop stays behind your knees. If your knees still hurt, try practicing with your lower back resting against a wall. Don’t stay in the pose if your knees continue to hurt, even with the prop or wall.
See alsoHow Yogis Do Squat: Malasana
If your heels do not stay on the ground …
Try elevating your heels, either on a wood wedge or a rolled blanket or sticky mat. If your heels are lifted without support, your weight will move onto the fronts of the feet, which will harm the knee joints and can upset your balance. The support under your feet with the wedge or mat should feel stable. You know you have the right amount of support when you can bend your knees without falling forward.
If you are stiff in the groins and have trouble bending forward …
Try sitting on a low bench or crate. Make sure it’s stable, bring the chest close to the thighs, then open the knees and extend the chest farther down. This will help you to relax the groins. You can modify the height accordingly for your leg length. Do not sit higher than you need to, but explore your limits. The idea is to remove tension from the groins.
See alsoLearn Crane Pose
Take a Retreat
In yoga, we learn how to open and expand as well as how to go in and contract. These physical shapes also represent our ability to be extroverted and communicative or introverted and solitary. Just as a tortoise withdraws its head and legs inside its shell, so too can the yoga practitioner withdraw his or her senses of perception. In Malasana and in our peak pose, Kurmasana, we can retreat from the overstimulating modern world by bringing the head lower than the chest, moving inward, and quieting the mind. The practice of withdrawing our senses, called pratyahara, is the first step in preparing our mind for meditation.
About Our Pros
Teacher Gabriella Giubilaro began practicing yoga in 1973 in Florence, Italy, with Dona Holleman. She has been to India many times to study directly with B.K.S. Iyengar, Geeta Iyengar, and Prashant Iyengar and she is the director of the Istituto Iyengar Yoga of Florence where she teaches regularly, in addition to her workshops worldwide. Model Laura Antelmi has studied for 29 years with Giubilaro, in addition to B.K.S. Iyengar and Geeta Iyengar. She owns the Iyengar Yoga Center of Boulder, in Colorado, and teaches workshops internationally.