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    Half Tortoise Pose: Ardha Kurmasana

    Purposes and Benefits:

    • Aids in relaxing body and mind
    • Helps relieve digestion problems and constipation
    • Assists in regulating sleep-wake cycle by stimulating pituitary gland
    • Stretches spine, hips, and gluteal muscles
    • Increases flexibility in hips
    • Boosts blood circulation to brain
    • Extends lower part of lungs and aids in augmenting lung capacity
    • Strengthens abdomen
    • Tones thighs
    • Improves flexibility of deltoids, latissimus dorsi muscles, scapula, and triceps

    How to Do:
    (NOTE: If you feel tightness in the hips or lower back, you may need more time before you can relax in this pose.)

    • Enter kneeling position: sit on heels with feet and knees together
    • Raise arms above head and bring palms together with thumbs crossed
    • Maintain straightened arms and spine throughout pose
    • Inhale while stretching up
    • Exhale slowly while bending forward in a straight line that spans distance between tailbone and fingertips
    • Stretch forward all the way until forehead and sides of hands touch floor
    • Engage arms and straighten elbows so that wrists, elbows, and triceps lift away from floor
    • Keep sliding fingertips forward
    • To deeply stretch spine, do these simultaneously: Reach buttocks back to heels; Keep using abdominal muscles (Eventually, buttocks will touch heels throughout pose)
    • With arms stretching forward and hips reaching back into heels, bring chin forward and away from chest
    • Relax shoulders, breathe, and feel the deep stretch along your back
    • Hold pose for 20 seconds
    • Exit pose slowly by moving hips back toward heels and by maintaining straightened arms and spine
    • When moving in and out of pose, use abdominal muscles to avoid rounding and buckling spine