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Kurmasana or tortoise pose yoga is the name of yoga asana in which our body mirrors a tortoise in the final step of the pose. In Sanskrit, the term Kurma means "Tortoise or turtle". This asana is performed mostly in Ashtanga or Hatha yoga as it deeply stretches the legs, stomach, thighs and hamstrings.
Tortoise pose yoga has many health benefits such as managing diabetes, reducing symptoms of asthma, promoting flexibility, improving blood circulation and many others. Experts say that kurmasana also helps provide mental benefits along with physical benefits.
On International Yoga Day, let's get to the benefits of tortoise pose yoga and how it is done. Take a look.
1. Helps build flexibility
Kurmasana includes deep stretches of the spine, the upper back muscles, the neck, the head, abdomen, shoulders, arms and the lower back muscles. Performing this yoga regularly can help build the flexibility of the spine, along with toning the entire body. It can also help you perform other stretchable exercises and experiment with challenging poses.
2. Helps asthmatics
In tortoise pose yoga, as we bend taking the form of a tortoise, our diaphragm opens up wide allowing the lungs to fill in more oxygen. The deep inhalation and exhalation of oxygen may allow asthmatics to breathe easily and relieve symptoms. Kurmasana also helps strengthen the lungs so that they can work better while breathing in and out.
3. Boost the immune system
According to a study, kurmasana or tortoise pose yoga can help support the thymus gland and improve immune functions. To mention, the thymus gland is responsible for the production and maturation of T-cells that play an important role in protecting the body against various pathogens. 
4. Manages diabetes
A study has shown that hatha yoga-like kurmasana involves the utilisation of total muscle mass that can help increase electrical activity in the body, leading to improved hormonal profile and blood flow. As diabetes is a hormonal-based condition, this yoga can help improve the production and functionality of insulin hormone and manage diabetes in the long run. 
5. Improves metabolism
Kurmasana helps stretch and activate almost all muscles of the body. With improved inner flexibility and circulation in the muscles and joints, the body's endocrine organs are strengthened, thus improving metabolism. This helps perform a wide range of activities such as burning calories, boosting energy and managing chronic diseases. 
6. Improves digestion
A study has shown that kurmasana and uttana kurmasana (one of its types) can help improve digestion. The pose tends to activate the muscles of the internal organs, including the stomach and the intestines and help with fast digestion, preventing bloating, constipation and other gastrointestinal related problems. 
7. Calms the mind
In tortoise pose yoga, the attention moves inward towards the earth as we pin the arms and legs down and curve back like a shell. This helps withdraw the attention from the world and calm our mind by feeling quiet and centred. Though beginners may not feel the calmness in the beginning, with practice, kurmasana can help align your mind and the body and provide you calmness by relaxing the sensory channels like eyes, mouth, ears and nose. 
How To Do Tortoise Pose Yoga
- First, sit comfortably in a Dandasana pose with legs spread, hands forward and between the hips on the floor and back erect.
- Now, press the thighs into the ground and try to lift the chest.
- Keep the legs stretched as much as possible and take a couple of deep breaths.
- Bend the knees without elevating the legs.
- Position the arms near the knees and inhale.
- Now, bend forward while exhaling, with the goal that you can put both the hands below the knees and stretch them out from the sides of the knees.
- Try to roll your thighs in the inward direction without putting pressure on the feet.
- Stretch the frontal of the chest and collarbones in a forwarding direction and keep them down with the help of the thighs over the shoulders or upper arms.
- At this position, both the legs will be on both the hands and the chin and chest will be on the floor.
- Breathe in and breathe out to extend the spine more forward. Try not to constrain your legs.
- Stay in the position for 2-3 breaths, release the pose and try again.
- If you feel relaxed in the position, try to do it further, otherwise, release the pose by slowly moving the hands out of the knees and sitting straight.
Every yoga pose, especially stretching yogas, requires a proper way to perform it. Apart from knowing the benefits of a certain yoga pose, one should also be aware of the associated risks to prevent injury and straining.
While performing tortoise pose yoga, our body stretches to maximum and our back and spine get vulnerable. Therefore, do remember to prepare for this pose with certain preparatory poses like bow pose, seated forward bend and downward-facing thunderbolt twist.
Also, it is always good to perform yoga poses under the guidance of a trainer or expert.