Wednesday 6 February 2013

Ardha-Kurmasana - Half Tortoise Pose - For Beginners

Those of you who had difficulty doing this in the Fixed Firm will have the same problem with the Half Tortoise - a gap between buttocks and heels. As suggested before, take every opportunity that presents itself to get down on your knees and bounce gently to stretch out your atrophied muscles, joints, and tendons. For the moment, however, sit down as far as you can and concentrate on keeping a downward pressure on your buttocks throughout the posture.

Half the benefit of this stretch comes from keeping your arms locked and touching ears as you bend forward  in the next step. So, make sure you don´t drop your steeple.

The Half Tortoise feels like pure Heaven after the Purgatory of the Fixed Firm. Not that the Half Tortoise is simple, which fact you will grasp the moment you find that no way will your buttocks stay touching your feels as you bend forward. In all likelihood, the gap will be just as large once you get your forehead on the floor. Even Jeff still has an inch to go.

Next, you'll discover that you probably don´t have enough spine strength to go all the way down with a perfectly straight spine. Resurrecting those crocodiles you met in the Balancing Stick in Chapter will help; they´re just where your face and hands will touch the towel. So it behooves you to go down slo-o-o-o-wly and to keep your face and hands off the towel till they absolutely must touch.

Not only will this slow stretch rapidly strengthen your back muscles and keep your spine as straight as possible at your particular point of development, but it will also keep your buttocks in contact with your heels longer. You'll learn that exact point to gauge your progress with each passing day.

To get the best stretch with your steeple, as the sides of your hands touch the towel, slide them forward. When they won´t slide any more, then walk them forward with side-to-side, rocking-crawling movements, until your arms and shoulders are stretched to what seems the breaking point. Then lower your forehead to the towel - and relax. Because relaxation is the aim of the posture,  it works magic on tense neck and shoulders.

It is east to have buttock-to-heel contact by buckling in the middle as you lift up. It is not easy to keep that contact when you come up like one solid chunk of steel from fingertips to tailbone - but that is the correct method. And the only way you are going to do it is as slowly as a pregnant snail.You must generate a tremendous amount of lift in your hands and arms and back muscles and keep that lift going all the way or the arms will sad and you will buckle. When done properly your whole spine, from top to bottom, will be working and strengthening. You´ll feel it every step of the way, and it will be very satisfying.


The Half Tortoise provides maximum relaxation. It cures indigestion and stretches the lower part of the lungs, increasing blood circulation to the brain. It firms the abdomen and thighs. And it increases the flexibility of hip joints, scapula, deltoids, triceps, and latissimus dorsi muscles.

Read more about this poses benefits, pictures, video and tips from HERE
Drawings and info from "Bikram´s Beginning Yoga Class " Book, 1978.

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