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