Sunday, May 19, 2013

Pose of the Month: Kurmasana

Pose of the Month
Kurmasana – Tortoise Pose
by April Evans

If you’re anything like me, you have seriously had enough of this Vata spring season.  Vata is the Ayurvedic dosha of air and ether.  It is associated with change and creativity, and is highly present in the transitory seasons of Spring and Autumn.  When we have a particularly Vata spring, where it goes back and forth from and rain to sun and hot to cold, we can get to feeling like the winds of change are dealing us some hard knocks.  We get to feeling too airy, too spaced out, too much like our feet aren’t on the ground.  It can be hard to make decisions, and for those of us who are naturally airy to begin with, we might experience anxiety, insomnia, and mood swings.

This month’s Pose of the Month is Kurmasana – tortoise pose.  For me, this pose is the ultimate grounding posture.  Just like a tortoise retreating to his shell, this posture always makes me feel safe and reminds me that no matter what is going on around me, I am always at home in my own skin.

*Balances Vata Dosha
*Calms the Mind
*Opens the entire back body
*Opens inner and outer hips
*Tones abdominal organs

How to do this Pose
There are lots of stops on the way to the full expression of Kurmasana – stay and breathe once you’ve reached your edge.  Remember, you don’t have to be able to hook your ankles behind your head to embody a calming inward gaze.  Also, this is not a pose to do cold.  Warm up the hips, hamstrings, and space between the shoulder blades before trying this pose.

1.  Come to sit on the mat.  Bend the knees a lot and place the heels on the ground about as wide as the mat.  Drape the torso down in between the legs.  For some, this will be plenty.
2.  Reach from the insides of the legs and take the hands to grab the backs of the ankles.  Begin to work the shoulders underneath the knees.  Squeeze the knees into the shoulders to feel the shoulder blades open up, continue to let the head drop and breathe deeply.

3.  Start to reach the arms out in a V shape behind you, and begin to extend the legs long into a V shape in front of you.  The forehead may come to the floor, or maybe the chest can extend forward and the breast bone and chin will come to the floor.  This is another great place to stay and breathe.

4. If this feels good, start to reach the hands toward the center of the back, and begin to wiggle the feet toward each other.

5. For the full expression, you may be able to find a clasp with the hands near the small of the back, and hook the ankles behind the head.

6.  Breathe deeply into the safety of your own little shell.

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