Tortoise Pose

Tortoise Yoga Pose - YanvaYoga

A sitting forward bending pose, Kurmasana gets its name from the Sanskrit term ‘Kurma’ meaning turtle or tortoise, and ‘asana’ meaning posture or seat. The name is so given since, at the end of the pose, your body posture resembles that of a tortoise.

Also known as the Turtle or Tortoise Pose, this asana finds a mention in ancient 7th-century yogic illustrations. In modern yoga, Kurmasana is described amongst the Iyengar Yoga poses, where it is said to be dedicated to Lord Vishnu’s tortoise incarnation.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1
Start in a seated position. Your back should be upright, and your legs should be extended in front of you. Flex your feet so your toes are pointed to the ceiling. Press your thighs into the ground.
Step 2
Spread your legs further than shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees slightly off the ground no more than a couple of inches. This should bring your feet closer to you as you draw your body inward.
Step 3
Put your arms in front of you, keeping them in between your legs.
Step 4
Bend your torso slowly. As you lean forward, slide each of your arms out to the side with palms facing down. Your arms should naturally slide underneath your slightly raised knees. Keep your elbows locked and your arms low to the ground.
Step 5
Bring your chest and head forward, opening your shoulders as you draw your upper body closer to your lower body. Continue lowering your head until your chin touches the ground.
Step 6
Once your arms are spread on both sides and your head is fully lowered, straighten out your legs. Your knees should no longer be bent, though your feet should still be in a flexed position.
Step 7
Extend your gaze ahead of you as you draw inward. Relax and take deep breaths. Focus on your thighs pressing down on your arms, which should invoke a sense of comfort and relaxation.
Step 8
Allow your thoughts to shift from the external world to your internal world. Let go of pressure, tension, and stress — both physically and mentally. Hold the pose for approximately 30 seconds while taking gentle breaths.
Step 9
To release the pose safely, bend your knees and lift from the upper body. Draw your arms to your sides and hinge at the torso.

Benefits and Contraindications

Benefits

Encourages mobility and flexibility in the hips.

Toning the abdominal area

Stimulating the digestive system along with kidneys and liver

Relieving lower back issues

Reducing sciatica pain

Enhancing blood circulation

Reducing stress and anxiety

Opening up the chest and lungs

Managing asthma symptoms

Reducing the risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's

Contraindications

Injuries in the shoulder, arm or hips

Recent surgery

Pregnancy

Herniated discs

Arthritis

Sciatica

Fever, cold, or flu

Photo poses in different angles

Modifications, Props & Tips

One should keep in mind the following points before proceeding into Kurmasana.

Going straight into the asana would be ignorant and against personal wellness. So, newly enrolled practitioners must follow the guidelines before the practice.

Kurmasana is an intermediate/advanced forward bending posture and it requires flexibility. Therefore, do not force oneself to accomplished the pose. Modify the pose or use props if needed.

For instance, if practitioners are unable to touch their chin to the floor they can keep their head at some distance from the floor.

Bringing hands under the knees might be difficult in case of the rigid shoulder. This can be overcome by holding a strap in hand behind the back. Now, slowly reach to the middle of the strap from both sides.

To deepen the forward bend, one has must have flexible hamstring and inner thigh. Big toe pose and herons pose can be practiced for hamstring and butterfly for inner thigh, respectively.

Variations
  • Reclined Tortoise Pose
  • Firefly Pose
Top Follow-Up Poses

Iana Varshavska
Iana Varshavska
Website administrator

In love with yoga and everything that goes along with it. Iana is a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) who has completed the 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training Certification by the Yoga Alliance U.S. In addition to that, she is constantly studying and improving her skills in various aspects of yoga philosophy, yoga anatomy, biomechanics, and holodynamics.