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Yoga Pose – Kurmasana

In my previous article on Tadasana, I’ve explained few common instructions applicable to all the asanas.

Kurma” (Tortoise) is one of the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu. To be given such a significant name, this asana must have some supreme importance, and indeed it has. This asana is prominently mentioned in the Ashtanga Yoga. This posture is also known as “Skandjanuasana.” “Skandh” in Sanskrit language means shoulders and “Janu” refers to knees. When one is in the final pose of this asana, one looks like the tortoise, hence the asana is referred by this name.  Tortoises have the life-span more than that of human beings. Some tortoises have lived up to 175+ years. This is a positive factor that one should know to get inspiration to live a long and healthy life.

Method/Technique of Ustrasana / Tortoise Pose

  1. Be seated and separate the legs. Let the distance between the feet be about 1 meter.
  2. Let the knees remain slightly bent initially. Subsequently they have to bear the maximum pressure.
  3. Move the torso forward.
  4. Slide the arms-the right below the right leg and the left below the left leg. Slide them as much as they can reach.
  5. The faces of the palms touch the mat/floor.
  6. Press your legs to straighten them as much as possible and this is enabled by taking the torso close to the floor. Let the legs do some efforts now. Press your heels towards the ground. Relax in that position and breathe several times.
  7. To revert to the starting position, bend your legs slowly and loosen the arms by releasing the pressure on them. Relax for some time, before beginning the next round of the asana.
  8. Repeat this asana 2-3 times.

Physical/Therapeutic Benefits

  1. The muscles of thighs, shoulders and hips are intensely stretched and they are thus strengthened. Good for the abdominal region. One, who does this asana regularly, will not suffer from constipation and gastric troubles.
  2. Increases the flexibility of the body. Back muscles are empowered and lengthened.
  3. A good exercise for the lungs. Improvement in the respiratory and digestive processes.
  4. Tightness in the lumbar and sacrum region loosened. Body turns athletic.
  5. Ardha Kurmasana is supposed to be conducive for the growth of height.

Spiritual Benefits

  1. Helps an individual to probe the inner world, being considered as an asana for the advanced stage of yoga practice.
  2. A specific asana that helps the process of meditation, as it opens up the prana energy in the spine.
  3. Conducive to tranquility.


  1. Do not bend forward abruptly, if you have problems of reach due to stiffness in any part of the body. To start with, practice a simple forward bend to the extent you can. Practice Paschimottasana first, to enable the hamstrings to get used to this pose and to attain flexibility of muscles. Surya Namaskara will also help, as all the parts of the human body are involved in this exercise, and hence it is a great and beneficial loosening exercise.
  2. In case of recurring and severe back pain problems, do not attempt this asana.
  3. One of the most challenging asanas, hence do it at a later stage, after you have mastered some other postures, which are relatively easy.

(Pic courtesy:


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