Sleeping Tortoise Pose

Definition - What does Sleeping Tortoise Pose mean?

Sleeping tortoise pose is an advanced hip opening pose. It strengthens the outer hips, decompresses the spine and opens the pelvis, hips and lower back.

Start by sitting on the floor with the knees bent. One leg is lifted and the elbow on that side reaches through. The lifted leg is then hoisted over the shoulder. The head is tucked under the foot while nudging the shoulder deeper into the knee crease. These steps are repeated with the other leg and the ankles are hooked on top of one another behind the head. The body bends forward until the head is resting on the floor. Arms reach around and back so that the hands clasp together.

Sleeping tortoise pose may also be referred to by its Sanskrit name, supta kurmasana.

Yogapedia explains Sleeping Tortoise Pose

Sleeping tortoise pose is one of the deepest poses of the Ashtanga yoga primary series. It activates the abdominal muscles, stretches and tones the spine, increases energy and also promotes better sleep.

There is an alternative way to enter this pose. From a sitting position, bend forward and clasp the ankles with the hands. Elbows will poke through the legs. Using the hands, the legs are brought over the head, one at a time. If it is not possible to reach the arms around to clasp the hands together, a strap may be used. Another modification of this pose allows you to extend the arms out to the side and form a "T" instead of clasping the hands behind the lower back.

Sleeping tortoise pose is an advanced forward bend that may be appropriate only for experienced yogis who have a great deal of hip and back flexibility. Before attempting this posture, it is recommended to first practice tortoise pose, or kurmasana. While learning sleeping tortoise pose, it is very helpful to have an experienced and knowledgeable teacher who can assist in bringing the body into it. This pose should not be practiced by those suffering from back pain or injury.

Email Newsletter

Join thousands of others with our weekly newsletter