The yoga poses are often named after the qualities observed in nature. Kurmasana is also inspired by the characteristics of Tortoise, the animal that withdraws inward when it experiences a threat. Likewise, as you assume the shape of a tortoise in Kurmasana, you unfold a feeling of moving inward and connecting with the spiritual core.
When the inner world starts to become clearer, you move to a state of Pratyahara, the fifth limb of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. In the Tortoise Pose, the limbs– ears, eyes, nose, skin, mouth and mind are drawn into the inner landscape therein resulting in Pratyahara.
At first, practicing the Kurmasana– the pose of centeredness can be a quite challenge. The pose requires curving back like a shell and holding arms and legs down to the earth that may give rise to fear. Practicing the pose by following alignment instructions encourages equanimity.
Before the practice of the Tortoise Pose:
The health benefits of Kurmasana can be maximized by practicing the pose early morning. Brahmi Muhurta (one hour before the sunrise) is considered ideal because, at this time, the mind is calm that makes surrender to the self-easier.
Warm up the body by performing a few hips, back and thigh opening yoga postures. Take 5-10 breaths in the Chair Pose (Utkatasana), Eagle Pose(Garudasana), Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana), Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) and Extended Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana). Perform these yoga asanas on both the sides before moving to the Kurmasana.
Steps of Kurmasana:
Safety tips for the posture:
Variations of the pose:
Ardha Kurmasana (Half Tortoise Pose)
Supta Kurmasana (Sleeping Tortoise Pose)
Contraindications of Kurmasana:
People suffering from sciatica, slipped disk, hernia, and chronic arthritis should avoid the practice of the pose. Once the injury has been healed, you can practice the pose.
The Benefits of Tortoise Pose:
1. Optimal Functioning Respiratory System: In the pose, the lungs and chest are pressed towards the floor, the upper torso is contracted and the arms are stretched out. The contraction of the muscles improves flexibility and enhances the functioning of the respiratory organ. Therefore, in the posture, a sense of breath awareness cultivates.
2. Massages the Lumbar Region: The lower back pain is a common health issue. As you extend the spine forward, the muscles at the lower end of the spine (lumbar region), gets released reducing the stiffness and giving it a massage. Considering the role of the lumbar spine in rotation, flexibility and strength, the pose strengthens and gives it a toned look. With the pose, reap the health benefits of Kurmasana for the lumbar spine.
3. Awakening Body’s Metabolism: As you practice the Tortoise Pose with attention to the alignment, you stretch the vital muscles of the entire body; the hamstrings, the whole abdominal muscles, then the neck muscles, the shoulders, the gluteal muscles, the diaphragm and more. With stretching, the blood circulation, flexibility, and range of motion improve. Hence with these results, the body’s metabolism gets corrected.
4. Improved Circulation of Blood and Prana: In the Kurmasana, the body goes in forward fold taking the chest, pelvis and abdomen towards the ground and spine is elongated. This movement increases the flow of blood to the body parts and flow of prana to the spine opening the blockages. The benefits of tortoise pose keep the body-mind in good health.
5. Physical and Mental Relaxation: The Kurmasana fosters physical and mental relaxation. By fostering awareness of the breath and withdrawal of the senses, the pose cultivates inward connection and deep serenity.
Develop peace of body-mind with the Kurmasana. Practice with patience for best results.