I first tried this pose as part of a posture challenge I did on Instagram. It isn’t the easiest thing to get in to – preparation is important. It is so very different from half-tortoise pose I don’t fully understand how they share a name.
If you want to give it a try, please follow the above directions. You want to be fully stretched and warm before attempting this posture. It’s obnoxious, I know – but I am so flexible that sometimes I get too deep in to the pose and almost find myself stuck. What I love about Tortoise is that the main purpose of it is not to stretch your hamstrings, tone your abs and encourage flexibility in your hips (which it does) but rather – it is to calm the mind.
I love my at home practice but there are certain things that happen in class that I find hard to replicate at home. The teachers always seem to know when to tell me to relax my jaw, relax my tongue. To stop clenching a certain muscle or to breathe! This is a posture that benefits greatly from breath. Find a point on your body that is tense, concentrate on it, breathe in, breathe out… Release. Yesterday I wrote that a friend said she could fall asleep in Pigeon Pose – I could fall asleep here.
The benefit to the mind stems from an increased flow of blood to the brain. This, in turn, helps with mental clarity and memory. It can also help with sleep disorders like insomnia and is a great stress reducer – provided you can get into and hold the posture without people asking what on earth you are doing – but maybe that is just a side effect of my doing yoga at work. Ignore that last part.
Reverse out of the posture slowly. Take one last deep breath. And be thankful for these postures and their teachings. They help the body but the benefit to the mind is so much more important. Take the feeling of calm you find in the asanas and keep it with you for the remainder of the day.
Namaste – and happy Friday!