Oh yea- you read it right! Fun Pose Friday’s are back baby! Happy Friday yogis!
This week’s edition of Fun Pose Friday we’re featuring: Kurmasana / tortoise pose.
Like a tortoise withdrawing into its shell, the ideal outcome of kurmasana is to find a quiet place inside. This pose can be a bridge to pratyahara, the fifth limb of Ashtanga yoga, translated as, “withdrawal of the senses from outside objects.” For many though, it can be difficult to quiet the mind in Kurmasana; which pins arms and legs down to the ground.
Great benefits can be reaped from Kurmasana:
• Strengthens the back
• Tones abdominals
• Encourages hip and hamstring flexibility
• Quiets the mind (YAY!)
Kurmasana, according to the late B.K.S. Iyengar‘s book Light on Yoga, “tones the spine, activates the abdominal organs, and keeps one energetic and healthy.” Additionally, the posture “soothes the nerves of the brain,” he says, “and after completing it, one feels refreshed, as though one had woken up from a long undisturbed sleep.”
Kurmasana is not recommended for individuals with disc problems or other lower back issues. Also, definitely make sure your muscles are warmed up before attempting this pose.
Getting into Kurmasana… this is the tricky part:
From Dandasana (staff pose), bring legs out slightly wider than your hips and bend knees. Maintain a straight spine and begin to fold forward. With palms facing down, slide one arm at a time beneath the thighs. Walk the palms out to the side as far as possible. Broaden the chest and release shoulders down toward the floor and away from your ears.
Scan the body for any spots where you might be holding tension, including the face, jaw, neck or hips and attempt to let that tightness go. Back off the pose if it is feeling painful or too intense. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute and release.
To come out of Kurmasana, bend knees and begin to lift the torso. Slide one arm back out from underneath the thigh and then the other arm.
Like most poses, there are lots of steps and preparatory poses that we can take as we continue to explore the full expression of this pose. You can always start with the knees bent and hands pointing forward versus back. Don’t push through this one- as it can be a pretty deep and intense stretch in the hips/hamstrings. One step at time and with practice… you’ll get there!
As we begin to find peace in this challenging pose, it can help us face difficult situations both on and off the mat.