Reclined Tortoise Pose - Supta Kurmasana


Reclined Tortoise Pose, also known as Supta Kurmasana in Sanskrit, is a challenging yoga pose that requires flexibility and strength. The pose is named after the tortoise, as the practitioner’s body resembles a tortoise’s shell in this pose.Supta Kurmasana also known as Sleeping Tortoise Pose.
Reclined Tortoise Pose is one of the deepest hip openers in Primary Series of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. This posture require: deep external rotation in the hips, deep flexion in the spine and a deep inner rotation in the shoulder join. If you have any restriction in your body in these areas, you should considerer the idea to hold the previous postures for a bit longer in order to allow your body to slowly open.
The pose can help to improve flexibility, strengthen the back and core muscles, and calm the mind. It is also said to stimulate the nervous system and aid in digestion.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1
Begin by sitting in Staff Pose, with your legs extended straight out in front of you.
Step 2
Bend both of your feet and place them flat on the floor.
Step 3
Gently move your legs slightly apart from the center.
Step 4
Bend forward, bringing your hands to the floor between your bent legs.
Step 5
Slide your forearms underneath your knees and take your hands behind your hips. Your hands should move backward and behind you beneath your bent knees, with your palms resting on the floor.
Step 6
Try to bring your feet closer to the center, allowing your big toes to touch each other while your heels move away from each other. Simultaneously, continue moving your hands back as far as possible, with your palms resting on the floor. Bend forward and rest your forehead in the space between your feet and heels.
Step 7
Bend your elbows and bring your hands behind your back. Allow your elbows to curve and bend around your thighs, with your hands reaching toward your back. Interlock your fingers or clasp your hands. If you are unable to touch both hands at your back, you can use a belt or towel as a connector.
Step 8
If your flexibility allows, you can also cross one foot over the other ankle and lock them together.
Step 9
Take deep breaths in this position for approximately 4-5 times.

Benefits and Contraindications


Stimulates the abdominal organs and massages the internal organs

Stretches the hips, hamstrings, and lower back

Calms the mind and reduces stress

Helps to improve digestion

Improves flexibility in the shoulders and spine



High blood pressure or a heart condition

Herniated disc or sciatica

Shoulder, hip, or lower back injury

Modifications and Props for Beginners

  • Place a block or bolster under your hips to elevate them and make the pose less intense.
  • If you cannot touch both your hands at your back, use belt or towel as a connector.

Useful Tips

  • Warm up your body before attempting this pose with some hip-opening and shoulder-stretching exercises.
  • Take your time and move slowly into the pose, breathing deeply and allowing your body to open up gradually.
  • Don’t force yourself into the pose – listen to your body and back off if you feel any pain or discomfort.
  • Stay in the pose for only as long as you feel comfortable, gradually increasing the duration over time as your flexibility improves.

Use your breath to help you relax and release tension in your body while holding the pose.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Reclined Tortoise Pose suitable for beginners?

Reclined Tortoise Pose or Supta Kurmasana is an advanced yoga pose that requires a high level of flexibility and strength. It’s not suitable for beginners, and it’s important to work on preparatory poses and gradually build up to this pose over time.

How do I know if I am ready for Reclined Tortoise Pose?

It’s important to listen to your body and not push yourself beyond your limits. If you have a regular yoga practice and feel comfortable in other advanced poses such as Full Lotus Pose or Handstand, then you may be ready to attempt Reclined Tortoise Pose or Supta Kurmasana. It’s always a good idea to work with a qualified yoga teacher who can guide you through the pose and provide modifications as needed.

Can Supta Kurmasana be done as a standalone pose or should it be part of a sequence?

Supta Kurmasana can be done as a standalone pose or as part of a longer sequence. It is recommended to include preparatory poses and follow-up poses to help prepare the body for the pose and release any tension afterward.

How long should I hold Supta Kurmasana?

The length of time to hold the pose will depend on your level of practice and comfort. It’s important to listen to your body and not hold the pose for longer than you can comfortably tolerate.


  • Bound Angle Pose Variation
  • Half Tortoise Pose Variation
  • Full Lotus Tortoise Pose Variation
  • Supported Tortoise Pose Variation

Iana Varshavska
Iana Varshavska
Website administrator

A digital marketer in love with yoga and everything that goes along with it. In 2021, her huge passion for yoga led her to yoga teacher trainings. After successfully completing her studies, Iana received her Yoga Alliance U.S. certification, left the corporate IT world and devoted herself to the development of Yanva. To be able to create the best online yoga space for yoga enthusiasts like her, Iana is constantly learning and improving her skills in various aspects of yoga philosophy, anatomy and biomechanics. Since 2021, she has continued to attend various types of teacher training, including yoga therapy, gives online and offline classes, and conducts local workshops for people who want to learn more about yoga. At the moment, Iana continues to work on her personal practice, improving her hand balancing skills, as well as developing her own training programs.