Finally, we forward fold! Half-Tortoise Pose is a reflective, calming posture for our spinal column and our central nervous system. We softly fold into ourselves, allowing our breath to return under our rhythm and prepare for the most intense backbend of the series in the posture following this one. We stretch the spine equally on both sides and give the lungs a chance to recuperate.
Begin sitting your hips on your heels with your feet and knees touching side by side. Take a deep breath and bring both arms overhead sideways. Press your palms together overhead and cross your thumbs to make a prayer position. Stretch your arms in this position straight up to the ceiling, helping you to create a perfectly straight posture with your spine and torso.
Keeping your hips on your heels and your knees together, slowly bend forward at the waist. Control your descent, allowing your abdominal muscles to strengthen. Place your forehead on the ground, “bowing down,” and keep your hands/palms in prayer position, with straight arms stretching forward above your head. Only the baby-finger side of the hands should touch the ground.
Keep effort in your stretch forward, even though your body is folded against the thighs and your forehead is resting on the ground, in front of the knees.
When you exit the posture, try your best to keep the arms long, the spine straight, and your hips connected to the heels. We exit the way we enter, feeling long and lifted, despite the climb against gravity.
This pose helps to calm our central nervous system with and equalized stretch of the spine on both front and back sides. By continuously stretching the arms overhead while seated and also during the bow of the body, we are giving a subtle stretch to the lungs, increasing their elasticity so that we can prioritize more breath into the body. While folded, we are pressing the organs of the front side body against the heat of the thighs, helping to prepare these organs for a very deep stretch in the next pose.