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.