Kurmasana (or Tortoise pose) is an advanced level of asana, but don’t let that put you off. Like anything, poses can be broken down into stages. Yes, for sure it can be a bit tricky for a beginner to do it in just one go, yet thankfully that is not the aim. It takes time to learn Kurmasan with accuracy (step-by-step) and hence gain get a deeper understanding of the posture.
Kurma is a Sanskrit word that means tortoise. The pose of this asana gives an impression of a tortoise. Generally, tortoises live a long life and so do the practitioners of Kurmasana if they practice it regularly. It expands your lifespan by strengthening your immune system. Just like a tortoise withdraws into its shell for self-defence, Kurmasana enables the practitioner to withdraw his/her sense organs and mind from the outer world to feel the tranquillity within. It bestows inner peace and calmness.
Like with any asana it’s not about looking perfect but feeling present in the pose. As with all forms of exercise, please check with your doctor for suitability first.
Preparatory Poses: As the name suggests these asanas should be practised in order to get your body warmed up before the main pose. Here is a link to a yoga video I have done which shows some great yoga warm-ups.
Main Asana: Kurmasana
Steps to follow:
1. Sit on the floor with the spine straight and with the legs spread out in front of you.
2. Bend the legs and have them wide enough apart ( but not too wide) so that you can fit your torso in between. As you do this, aim to bend forward with the forehead almost touching the floor in front of you. Of course, if you can’t get the forehead to the floor don’t worry.
3. Next, pass the hands under the knees. You can do one side at a time if that makes it easier for you. If your elbows don’t go beyond your knees, then don’t go any further at this stage. This is important. Your asana will be to stay here, and with time and patience, you may be able to go on to stage 4.
4. Make sure your thighs are rolling inwards rather than out. Have feet slightly flexed. Bend forward to touch the forehead to the ground and slide the hands further under the knees towards the back. Exhale as you bend further forward.
5. For those of you who are super bendy clasp the two hands behind the back. This is the final position. Please breathe slowly and calmly throughout. Hold for five breaths, repeat and practice regularly. Come out of the pose with as much care as you came into it.
Benefits of Kurmasana
• Salubrious for health problems such as asthma, diabetes and digestive issues
• Vitalises and improves abdominal organs
• Stretches legs, hips, shoulders and arms
• Good for the back mobility and flexibility
• Great for neck and shoulders
• Helps posture
• Improves the circulation and blood flow to the body
After the pose, it is best to come into a complementary pose which relieves the strain of a particular asana. For the tortoise, poses like the cobra and back bends and are good. See my article on better posture or more pose ideas.
So last but not the least let’s talk briefly about relaxation. This makes all the good stuff you have just done work. See my article on Savasana. This pose is relatively easy to practice, therefore can be practised for a longer period.
Here’s to a long healthy life just like a tortoise!
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