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HATHA YOGA PRADIPIKA

Kurmasana—Tortoise

Complete Yoga Breath
with Sound!

Postures Series

Some Important
Pradipika
Postures

 

Cowface Posture
Gomukhasana
Cowface Posture

 

The Bow
Dhanurasana
Bow Posture

 

Other Favorites
Matsyasana
Fish Pose

 

Nauli-Kriya
Padmasana
Bound Lotus

 

Relaxation
Savasana
Relaxation

Kurmasana

(Kurma = Tortoise)

  • Place the right ankle on the left side of the anus, and the left ankle on the right side of it.
  • Spread your knees and sit as close to the floor as you can. If this is too difficult, try to sit on your heels.
  • Breathe slowly. Bend your upper body forward and down as close to the floor as possible. Note: Remember to keep the small of your back pressed in. You don't want to roll your back forward in an attempt to do this posture.

Kurmasana side viewHere you see from a side view how Eugenia's back is as flat as it can be. Her feet are wrapped around her buttocks. Her arms are flat.

This posture is very difficult for most people, so don't be discouraged if you only come forward a few inches! It takes a lot of time and practice to do this. Some people never get down to the floor. Here are a few tips to make it easeir, and some preliminary stretches to help you reach the final goal.

  • Before you begin, sit down on the floor with your buttocks as close to the floor between your feet. Just hold that for a while, and then relax and sit on your heels. Repeat this every day until you are able to get your buttocks to touch the floor with your knees spread out and your feet as Eugenia show in the image above. This is actually a knee position that is healing for people who have knee problems, but my suggestion is to start very slow and work up to this on a daily basis.

A good preliminary exercise comes from the Moon Salutation:

forward bend for spineIn this position, you can practice by just kneeling down on your right foot with your left knee as shown in this illustration. You can place your hands in front of you and come forward a bit. Don't push it. (This image is not great because the back is not straight.) Try to keep your back straight. This is for people who really need to start slow with something that is usually easy. It's just one example of how you can start to train your body to get into Kurmasana (tortoise).

Moon Salutation Step 11
  • This is Step 11 of the Moon Salutation (on this site) , which is another great preliminary to Kurmasana. The difference is you stretch up and back instead of forward. This will help you to get your legs right for the goal and it will stretch your body more at the same time.
  • From this position (which you inhale before you stretch back), exhale and come forward with your arms. Try to get the feeling that you are stretching forward to reach something, but with your back straight. In fact, push the small of your back in before you come forward to make it easier to continue without hurting yourself.
  • Once you get as far as you can, say to yourself, “I control my own energy in a relaxed and easy way.”

Benefits

This posture stretches the pelvis in a way it is not normally stretched and should be. It helps to strenghten the legs and feet to be able to sit in the Lostus Posture. One should stretch as often as possible while standing, sitting, lying down—in every position! This is what keeps you young and healthy, stretching on a daily basis.

Note: Once you have learned Uddiyana-Bandha on this site (which is part of the Nauli series), you can exhale and bring your tummy in as far as you can while in this posture. It's powerful.
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