Traditionally, and in B. K. S. Iyengar's Light on Yoga, mālāsana, or Garland Pose, is used for a different squatting pose with the feet together and the back rounded with multiple hand placement variations. When the hands are bound around the back this pose is also called kanchyasana ("golden belt pose").
In the West, the term malasana is also used for the "regular squat pose", also called upavesasana, in which the hand palms are folded together in the so-called namaskar mudra in front of the chest, and the feet are set wider apart.
The term mālāsana is used in the Sritattvanidhi to describe bhujapidasana, the "shoulder press", in which the palms are placed on the ground, the body balancing on the hands, and the legs resting on the shoulders.
Mālāsana is from the Sanskrit माला mālā, a garland, necklace, or rosary; and आसन āsana, seat or posture. According to Iyengar, the name derives from the arms "hanging from the neck like a garland."
The name malasana is sometimes used in the West for the "regular squat pose," Upaveśāsana, in which the palms of the hands are folded together in Añjali Mudrā (prayer posture) in front of the chest, and the feet are set apart. Yoga Journal states that Malasana stretches the ankles, groins and back, and tones the belly, but cautions about using the asana when there are lower back or knee injuries. A variant of this pose, Prapadasana, has the heels together and the feet on tiptoe.
In the first variant, the feet are together with the arms wrapped around the back, while the chin touches the floor. When the arms are bound behind this asana is also called kanchyasana ("golden belt pose").
The Sritattvanidhi, a 19th-century book on a number of subjects including asanas,[note 2] gives a different picture for an āsana called Mālāsana at plate no.44. In this picture, the palms are placed flat on the floor, arm stretched upright, and the whole body balancing on the hands, while the legs are held close to the body, with the heels hanging down from a position close to the shoulders. This asana is also known as bhujapidasana, the "shoulder press."[note 3] Mālāsana can be used as a preparation for Bhujapidasana.