Although I can squat comfortably with my feet flat on the ground with an unrounded back, arms in prayer, and elbows inside knees, after doing this pose it can feel like I have ‘pulled’ my lower back and it can be quite sore for several days. What am I doing wrong here? I think of this pose (maybe incorrectly!) as being more about ankles and hips than the lower back. Any suggestions gratefully received!
Malasana is absolutely a lower back stretch, along with the ankles, knees and hips. It’s quite a deep forward flexion for the lower spine. It may be that your spine does not need this movement, and may in fact be too mobile in that direction. The experience you have often means that you don’t need to do that pose, or it’s best to avoid it altogether and that doing poses that take your spine into the opposite movement - back bends - would be more beneficial.
Does that make sense?
Thank you so much for your generosity in responding and all the great advice on here! Yes, it does make sense and the recommendation that extension might be needed rather than flexion - but I’m curious, if it could be that the ‘spine is too mobile in that direction’, wouldn’t that make it easier to do, in which case why should it feel sore? Also, when malasana comes in a class, what could I substitute it with since a back bend might not fit in that flow?
Yes, that seems intuitively to be the way it would work, but too much movement in one direction affects the discs between the vertebrae in a way that can create pain. Essentially, it’s best to always balance the range of motion of the spine.
Instead of malasana, you could do a simple seated forward bend with the legs either straight or slightly bent.
Once again, I’m so grateful for the wisdom and expertise you share here. Many thanks!