Posture of The Month: Half Tortoise Pose, Ardhakurmasana

You hear your instructors talk about it all the time, “this pose provides more relaxation in thirty seconds than eight hours of sleep,” well let us explain. You see, the name itself is named after an animal that actually retreats inward – hiding in his shell. In practicing this posture, one begins an exquisite process of moving inward as the noise of the outside world begins to fade away. It is the clarity gained from this inward journey that rejuvenates and reinvigorates the yogi. In due course of time, with repetition over time, the body gains energy and inertia becomes but a distant memory. It also happens to be that the Galapagos tortoise average lifespan is almost two hundred years and it’s heart rate is 6-10 beats per minute. As we sink deep into half tortoise pose, our hearts too, begin to slow. Will we live longer because of yoga? Only time will tell….in the meantime, let’s discuss the nuts and bolts of this powerfully passive posture.

How To:

  • Start by sitting down kneel down position toward the back of the yoga mat.
  • Flatten the feet, no gap under the ankles. Toes and heels touching each other. Hips touching the heels throughout the posture.
  • Inhale and stretch your arms over your head, palms together, thumbs crossed.
  • Lock your elbows, biceps to your ears. ┬áThis biceps ears connection simulates a sensory deprivation-part of the “going into the shell” experience, if you will. So do your best to lock them to the ears.
  • Stomach in, exhale, go down slowly. Hips touching heels.
  • Come down until the forehead touches the floor. Only the pinkies touch the floor, the rest of the arms are in the air.
  • Now stretch forward the arms, shoulders, scapula, even latissimus muscles of the back.
  • Hold the pose about twenty seconds.
  • Come up, arms and head together. Heels touching the hips. Arms down side.
  • Turn around, lie down and relax.

Tips and Tricks:

  • Lock the elbows by stretching through the inner arm, and squeezing the elbows together.
  • To keep the hips on the heels, drop the tailbone, and lengthen the lower back.
  • Avoid overarching the low back. Keep the low back flat.
  • You can actually practice this one OUT of sequence – when you’re feeling tired and need a quick pick me up.
  • For a little extra work in the shoulders, press the forehead gently into the floor and lift the arms up FIRST while exiting the pose.

Therapeutic Benefits:

  • Heart and respiratory rate slowed.
  • Lower lobes of the lungs stretched, benefiting asthmatics and those with a history of bronchitis or pneumonias.
  • Increases cerebral blood flow.
  • Massages abdominal organs.

Get Started On Your Yoga Journey!