Kurma means a tortoise. Kurmasana is dedicated to Kurma the Tortoise Incarnation of Vishnu, the maintainer of the universe. The pose is given in three stages. The final one resembles a tortoise with head and limbs withdrawn under its shell and is called Supta Kurmasana, the sleeping tortoise pose.
Technique for Kurmasana
- Sit on the floor with the legs stretched straight in front. Widen the legs; until the distance between the two knees is about a foot and a half.
- Bend the knees and lift them up by drawing the feet towards the trunk.
- Exhale, bend the trunk forward and insert the hands one by one under the knees. Push the arms underneath the knees and stretch them straight out sideways. Rest the shoulders on the floor and keep the palms on it. Take a breath.
- Exhale, stretch the trunk, still more, extend the neck and bring the forehead, then the chin and lastly the chest down to the floor. Then stretch the legs straight again. The knees will then be near the armpits and the back of the knees will touch the back of the upper arms near the armpits.
- Gradually intensify the stretch until the chin and the chest rest on the floor. Extend the legs fully also and press the heels down to the floor. This is the first stage. Hold this position from 30 to 6o seconds.
- Now turn the wrists so that the palms face up, and keeping the legs, trunk and head in the same position, move the arms back from the shoulders and stretch them straight so that the forearms are near the hip joints. Stay in this position without bending the elbows for 30 to 60 seconds. This is the second stage.
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