What is Kurmasana?

A sitting forward bending pose, Kurmasana gets its name from the Sanskrit term ‘Kurma’ meaning turtle or tortoise and ‘asana’ meaning posture or seat. The name is so given since, at the end of the pose, your body posture resembles that of a tortoise. 

Also known as the Turtle or Tortoise Pose, this asana find a mention in the ancient 7th-century yogic illustrations. In modern yoga, Kurmasana is described amongst the Iyengar Yoga poses, where it is said to be dedicated to Lord Vishnu’s tortoise incarnation. 

Who can do Kurmasana?

Kurmasana pose can be performed by a wide variety of people including:

  • Children 
  • Seniors
  • Beginners
  • People who want to improve their digestion.
  • Those who suffer from respiratory issues.
  • People who want to lose weight.
  • People who suffer from back problems.
  • Those who often feel stressed.

Who should avoid Kurmasana?

In case you have any of these conditions, you must not practise Kurmasana yoga pose without consulting your doctor:

  • Sciatica
  • Herniated discs
  • Chronic back pain
  • Shoulder, arm, or hip injury
  • Arthritis
  • Recent surgery
  • Pregnancy
  • Fever, cold, or flu
  • Severe stress or anxiety

How is Kurmasana done?

Since it is an intense forward fold, you need to be mindful of the Tortoise asana steps to prevent muscle strain and injury. 

Here is a detailed explanation of how to do Kurmasana:

  1. Sit comfortably on the floor and stretch your legs in the front. Make sure that your spine is erect and neutral.
  2. Your hands must be placed close to your hips on the floor.
  3. Now slowly press your thighs into the floor and raise your chest while inhaling and exhaling deeply.
  4. Spread your legs away from each other as much as you comfortably can.
  5. Inhale and bring your arms in the front.
  6. Exhale and bend your torso slightly and put your hands below your knees.
  7. Straighten your hands outwards from under the knees.
  8. Exhale deeply and bend your chest in the front.
  9. Lower your head so that your chin touches the floor.
  10. Keep your head neutral and gaze ahead.
  11. Hold the pose for as long as you can and return to the starting position.

What are some Kurmasana variations?

Here are some effective variations of Turtle Pose Yoga:

1. Supta Kurmasana

Also known as the Sleeping Tortoise Pose, Supta Kurmasana is an excellent pose to stimulate your back muscles and improve your digestion.

Here is how this variation of the Tortoise pose is done:

  1. To do this asana, begin with the traditional Kurmasana steps, except that your forehead touches the floor in this asana instead of your chin.
  2. Gently take your left leg above the head across your neck.
  3. Repeat the same process for your right leg.
  4. Slowly take your arms behind the back and clasp your palms into each other.
  5. Hold the pose for 20-30 seconds.

2. Ardha Kurmasana

This Kurmasana yoga pose variation is also known as the Half-Tortoise Pose. It is an easier variation of the traditional asana and is an excellent exercise to stretch your back, shoulders, arms, spine, and abdomen.

Here is how this variation of the Tortoise Pose Yoga is done:

  1. Get into the kneeling position and keep your feet and knees together. 
  2. Inhale deeply and place your palms above your head. Your upper arms must be touching your ears.
  3. Now lower your torso with your hands stretched out as much as you can. Place your stretched hands on the floor.
  4. Gently touch the floor with your forehead ensuring that your head is placed at a lower level than your heart.
  5. Hold the pose for 30-40 seconds while breathing deeply.
  6. Release the asana and return to the starting position.

What are the benefits of Kurmasana?

Kurmasana pose has incredible benefits that are not just limited to your physical fitness. Turtle Pose Yoga has great benefits for your mind. 

Here are some great reasons to include Kurmasana in your workout regime:

  1. One of the most important Tortoise Pose benefits is that it massages your abdominal area and stimulates your digestive organs along with kidneys and liver. This keeps you free of diseases and disorders of these organs.
  2. Turtle Pose in yoga is very beneficial for people who have a limited range of motion or those who lead sedentary lives. This asana stimulates the muscles around your lumbar spine and relieves you of lower back issues. This asana also reduces sciatica pain. 
  3. Kurmasana improves the flexibility of your hips and shoulders. This makes them stronger and improves your range of motion.
  4. One of the most important Tortoise Pose benefits is that by enhancing your circulation, especially to your brain, the pose calms your mind and reduces stress and anxiety. Regular practice of Kurmasana prevents neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s.
  5. It opens up your chest muscles and stimulates circulation. This prevents the risk of cardiovascular disorders.
  6. Kurmasana is an effective pose for opening up your lungs and diaphragm. By filling up your lungs with oxygen, it helps prevent and manage asthma.
  7. Since this asana can be done with minimal setup, you can easily include it in your home workouts.

How to do Kurmasana safely?

Since Kurmasana involves a deep stretch, you need to perfect its form to prevent injuries. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Never start doing this asana on your own. Learn it from a trained practitioner or join online yoga classes. This is especially important in yoga for beginners to prevent injuries.
  2. Don’t go straight into the Tortoise Pose Yoga. Warm-up your body with some preparatory poses such as the Bow Pose, Downward-Facing Dog Pose, or Seated Forward Bend.
  3. Never hyperextend your body while doing the Tortoise Asana. 
  4. If you feel pain or dizziness anytime while exercising, stop immediately.


Turtle Pose in yoga is a beneficial and wholesome asana that helps you achieve harmony between your mental and physical health and cure several disorders. The key to gaining these benefits is to keep yourself challenged and follow a healthy lifestyle.

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June 15, 2022

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