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Dive Deep into Kurmasana (Tortoise Pose): Benefits & Steps

Updated: 4 days ago

Kurmasana, also known as the Tortoise Pose, is a deep forward bend that mimics the shape of a tortoise retreating into its shell. This advanced yoga posture is not just a physical exercise but a profound journey inward, fostering introspection and tranquility. It’s a powerful pose that challenges your flexibility, patience, and connection with your inner self.

Tortoise Pose

The name "Kurmasana" comes from the Sanskrit words "Kurma" (tortoise) and "Asana" (pose). The tortoise symbolizes withdrawing from the external chaos and finding peace within. Just like a tortoise retracts into its shell for protection and calm, this pose encourages practitioners to turn their focus inward, away from external distractions.


Kurmasana is pronounced as Koohr-MAH-suh-nuh


Anatomy of Kurmasana (Tortoise Pose)

Kurmasana primarily targets the following body parts:

  • Hips: Stretches and opens the hip joints.

  • Hamstrings: Provides a deep stretch to the hamstrings.

  • Shoulders: Opens the shoulders, increasing their flexibility.

  • Back: Stretches the entire length of the spine.

This pose involves deep flexion of the hips and shoulders, demanding significant flexibility and strength from the practitioner.


How to perform Kurmasana

  1. Start in Dandasana (Staff Pose): Sit on the floor with your legs extended straight in front of you, and your feet together.

  2. Bend Your Knees: Spread your legs slightly wider than your hips and bend your knees.

  3. Slide Your Arms Underneath: Slide your arms under your knees, bringing your shoulders as close to the floor as possible.

  4. Extend Your Legs: Gradually straighten your legs while keeping your arms underneath them.

  5. Lower Your Torso: Lower your chest and head toward the floor, aiming to rest your chin or forehead on the ground.

  6. Relax and Breathe: Hold the pose, breathing deeply and steadily.

Tortoise Pose

When to perform Kurmasana

Kurmasana is best practiced in the middle or towards the end of your yoga session when your body is sufficiently warmed up. This ensures your muscles and joints are flexible enough to safely enter the deep stretch required by this pose.


Preparatory Poses

  • Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose): Opens the hips.

  • Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend): Stretches the hamstrings.

  • Upavistha Konasana (Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend): Prepares the inner thighs and hips.

  • Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog): Warms up the shoulders and back.


Follow-Up Poses

  • Balasana (Child’s Pose): To relax the back and hips.

  • Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose): To stretch the spine in the opposite direction.

  • Savasana (Corpse Pose): For complete relaxation and integration.


Chakra

Kurmasana is connected to the Svadhisthana (Sacral Chakra), which governs creativity, emotions, and relationships. By stimulating this chakra, Kurmasana helps release stored emotional tension and enhances your creative energies.

Sacral Chakra

Mantra

Chanting the mantra can enhance your focus and deepen your connection to the calming energies of the moon, aligning perfectly with the introspective nature of Kurmasana.

“Om Dhram Dhrim Dhraum Sah Chandraaya Namaha”

Alignment Cues

  • Keep your back as flat as possible.

  • Ensure your legs are engaged and active.

  • Relax your neck and let your head hang naturally.

  • Keep your breath steady and even.


Duration of Hold

Hold Kurmasana for about 30 seconds to 1 minute, gradually increasing the duration as your flexibility and comfort improve.


Drishti

In Kurmasana, your drishti (gaze) should be inward. Focus on your breath and the sensations within your body, fostering a meditative state.


Physical & Spiritual Awareness

Physically, Kurmasana increases flexibility in the hips, legs, and shoulders. Spiritually, it fosters introspection and inner calm. It encourages you to withdraw from external distractions and focus on your inner self, promoting mental clarity and peace.


Beginners’ Tips

  • Use props like blankets or blocks to support your chest if you can't reach the floor.

  • Keep your knees slightly bent if your hamstrings are tight.

  • Practice patience and don’t push your body beyond its limits.


Who Should Not Do It

  • Those with severe back or hip injuries.

  • Individuals with shoulder or neck issues.

  • Pregnant women.


Who Should Do It

  • Advanced practitioners looking to deepen their flexibility.

  • Those seeking mental clarity and inner peace.

  • Individuals aim to release emotional tension stored in the hips and shoulders.


Benefits of Kurmasana (Tortoise)

  • Enhances flexibility in the hips, hamstrings, and shoulders.

  • Stimulates the digestive system.

  • Calms the mind and reduces stress.

  • Promotes introspection and emotional balance.

  • Opens the sacral chakra, enhancing creativity and emotional stability.


Variations of Kurmasana (Tortoise)

  • Supta Kurmasana (Sleeping Tortoise Pose): A deeper variation where the legs are crossed behind the head.

  • Ardha Kurmasana (Half Tortoise Pose): A more accessible variation with less intense forward bending.


Modifications for Kurmasana (Tortoise)

  • Use a bolster under your chest for support.

  • Keep your knees bent to accommodate tight hamstrings.

  • Practice with a partner to help you deepen the stretch safely.


Common Mistakes

  • Rounding the back excessively.

  • Forcing the legs straight, causing strain.

  • Holding the breath instead of breathing deeply and steadily.


Safety and Precautions

  • Warm up thoroughly before attempting Kurmasana.

  • Listen to your body and avoid pushing beyond your limits.

  • Use props and modifications as needed to ensure safety and comfort.


Additional Preparation Tips

Direction to Face: Traditionally, facing east during your practice can harness the rising sun’s energy, promoting a sense of new beginnings and clarity.

What to Wear: Wear comfortable, stretchy clothing that allows free movement of your hips and shoulders.

Suitable Place and Essential Oil/Fragrance: A quiet, clean space with calming essential oils like lavender or sandalwood can enhance relaxation and focus.

Music for This Pose: Soft, instrumental music or nature sounds can help create a serene environment, allowing you to turn inward more easily.


Kurmasana (Tortoise Pose) is a profound yoga posture that combines physical challenge with deep introspection. While it requires significant flexibility and strength, the rewards—both physical and spiritual—are immense. Whether you’re seeking to enhance your flexibility, reduce stress, or delve deeper into your inner self, Kurmasana is a powerful pose to incorporate into your practice. Remember, the journey into this pose is as important as the pose itself, so approach it with patience, respect, and mindfulness.



Happy Yoga-ing!

Namaste!



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About the Author

Namaste! I'm Pooja Chauhan

A Yoga Alliance Certified Yoga Teacher and a practitioner. Diving deep into the realm of yoga heritage to revive its original teachings to create a significant impact in preserving and sharing culture with the world.

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