An Easy Guide to Kurmasana, or Tortoise Pose

In Kurmasana, or Tortoise Pose, yogis fold their body into the shape of a tortoise, with their backs arching to form the shell. Although this is a hard yoga pose, built for flexible yogis, this pose isn’t just a great stretch for the arms and back – it also brings on a sense of calm, focussing the mind.


Kurmasana allows you to retreat into your turtle shell, withdrawing both physically and mentally from the world in order to calm the mind and see clearly. On a more prosaic level, this yoga pose also strengthens and lengthens the spine, legs and neck and stimulates the respiratory and abdominal organs.

Watch a clip for this yoga pose 

How to do Kurmasana, or Tortoise Pose, in easy steps

Step 1:

Sit on the floor with your legs in front of you (Dandasana).

Step 2:

Spread the legs as wide as comfortable.

Step 3:

Bend the knees and bring the feet towards the groins.

Step 4:

Exhale and bend the upper body forward.

Step 5:

Slide the arms under the legs and knees, stretch them out sideways. Inhale.  

Step 6:

Turn the wrists so that the palms are face up and move the arms back so that the forearms are near the hip joints.

Step 7:

Exhale and extend the upper body towards the floor, leading with the forehead.

Step 8:

Begin to straighten the legs, pressing out through the heels, using the legs to guide the shoulders down to the floor.

Step 9:

Breathe and enjoy the pose.

Step 10:

Stay for thirty seconds to a minute.

Step 11:

To come out of the pose, slowly bend the knees and rock the hips to gently slide the arms from under the legs.

Step 12:

Stretch the legs straight out, and relax.


Yoga pose category:  Seated and twists

Level: 3

When you first start practicing Kurmasana, trying to focus on mindfulness can prove challenging, as pinning the arms back and the legs down requires a lot of concentration in itself. Just try and remember that just as your body should be positioned correctly, so should your mind, positioned to silence the chattering thoughts of the mind and bring on a state of calm.

Sanskrit words meaning: 

Kurma - turtle

Asana - pose

Yoga pose health benefits: 

Like all yoga poses, Kurmasana has many health benefits. Use it to help with the following health conditions:


Stiff hips



Yoga pose contraindications: 

Don’t practice Kurmasana if you have any of the following health conditions:


Hip injury

Shoulder injury

Elbow injury

Hamstring injury

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Lucy Edge 

is a yoga advocate and writer with three yoga books to her name, including the beloved travel memoir Yoga School Dropout. She writes regularly for the national press, has authored over 150 guides to types of yoga and yoga poses, discovered nearly 250 proven health benefits of yoga through her painstaking classification of 300 clinical studies, and collected more than 500 personal testimonials to the real life benefits of yoga. She is also the creator of our yoga shop – YogaClicks.Store – handpicking yoga brands that are beautifully made by yogis committed to environmental and social sustainability.