Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Kurmasana Mean?

Kurmasana is a seated yoga asana in which the body folds at the waist and the arms slip under the legs. It is recommended to stay in the pose for 30 to 40 seconds and for roughly five to 10 breaths. This pose is designed to create inner awareness and relaxation. As a result, kurmasana is touted as beneficial for relieving stress and improving concentration.

Its name comes from the Sanskrit kurma, which means "turtle" or "tortoise," and asana, which means "posture" or "seat.” It is so called because the asana resembles the shape of a tortoise in the full pose.

Kurmasana may also be known as tortoise pose.



Yogapedia Explains Kurmasana

There are a range of variations of kurmasana, including:

  • Supta kurmasana – Sleeping tortoise pose, a deeper version of the pose with the legs wrapped around the neck and the hands clasped at the lower back.
  • Ardha kurmasana – Half tortoise pose, a gentler version that starts in vajrasana, then the body folds and the arms extend forward, resting on the ground.
  • Uttana kurmasana – Upside-down tortoise pose, which can mean both a more challenging and a more relaxed version of the pose. In the challenging version, the pose balances on the buttocks with the arms and legs off the ground and entwined. An easier version starts in vajrasana, then the body folds until the head rests on the ground and the arms extend backward, resting on the ground.

Traditionally, kurmasana is designed to quiet the nervous system and shut out distractions, allowing the inner world to become clear and audible. This pose opens the door to pratyahara, the threshold to the inner world. The mind then becomes quiet and centered.

Kurmasana forms part of the primary series of Ashtanga yoga and is popular in a range of styles of yoga because of its physical and mental benefits.

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