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Feature Pose: Kurmasana

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Woman in deep hip-opening pose.
Published in Sweat Equity Magazine 2017

Have you ever said something off-colour to a friend? Had one too many cocktails at the work Christmas function, or overshared on a first date?

Most of us don’t have to reach too far back into the recesses of our mind to find examples of scenarios we’d rather forget. But as painful and anxiety-provoking as these occurrences may be, they are an inevitable and even retrospectively funny part of life. However, while repression might be a merciful short-term solution, you can’t bury your head in the sand every time you reveal a less polished version of yourself.

Now, I don’t recommend you retreat to your cubicle and crawl under your desk into Tortoise Pose—this would do nothing to bolster assurances of your sanity—in the comfort of your own home, you might curl up into a little Kurmasana and tune out the day. The holidays are notorious for providing situations or opportunities that make us want to withdraw like a turtle in its shell. The great yogis, being authorities on the human condition, recognized the solace and silence that arrives when we turn our attention inwards, just as a tortoise does—a symbol of determination and unruffled form.

Kurmasana provides a deep and intense stretch along the entire backside of the body. People with lower back, hamstring, or groin issues should proceed slowly and with caution.

The soothing impact of this posture on the brain provides relief from anxiety or worry (just imagine getting frantic about anything in this pose!). By calming the nervous system, Kurmasana helps to promote deep sleep and prevent insomnia.

Tortoise Pose stimulates the second and third chakras, massaging the internal organs and aiding digestion. It aids our psychic digestion, too, giving us the strength and flexibility required to integrate life’s experiences before gracefully moving on.

Getting Into The Pose

  1. Start with your knees bent to safely explore your range of motion in this pose. This will release the hamstrings somewhat and allow proper rotation of the pelvis, avoiding undue strain on the lower back.

  2. Walk your way forward between the legs, until you find a comfortable stretch. Feel free to stay right here!

  3. Slide your arms under each leg, palms facing down, and continue to inch forward.

  4. Slowly begin to straighten your legs, gently pressing your shoulders towards the earth. Be extremely cautious here. Tune into your breath and heed the messages of your body.

  5. Rest your forehead or chin on the floor and close your eyes, soaking up the benefits of this deep spinal stretch.

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