Activate Your Core: Practice Yoga’s Boat Pose at the Wall

Yoga's Navasana or Boat Pose variation practiced at the wall

Article At A Glance

Boat Pose (Navasana) is a foundational core-strengthening pose with many variations for all students. Try the fun and challenging Boat Pose at-the-wall variations and home play experiments here.

Practicing Boat Pose (Navasana) with the support of a wall helps you strengthen your abdominal muscles and deep hip flexors. The wall absorbs some of the burdens as you activate your muscles and explore your balance. The wall also allows you to extend the time you stay in the pose safely.

Postures that focus on strength build feelings of confidence, stability, success, and purpose. The only way you will know how these poses benefit you is to experiment with them and observe the results.

How to practice Boat Pose (Navasana) variation

Listen to your body. Some days you have more energy and can hold the postures longer. On other days you may need to take it a little easier. Create your practice moment by moment in the present moment—this expresses the true flexibility of yoga.

As you practice these poses, remember these words: fortify, boost, engage, uplift, energize, build, charge, warm, harness, reinforce, and refresh.

How to Practice Boat Pose at the Wall

Woman practicing Navasana (Boat Pose) with her feet against a wall.

  1. Sit on the floor or on a blanket facing the wall. Extend your legs in front of you, with your knees bent and the soles of your feet on the floor, so that your feet comfortably reach the wall. For less support from the wall, sit further away from the wall.
  2. Place your feet on the wall at about eye level, with your knees slightly bent. Steady yourself by lightly touching your hands to the floor beside you. To make it easier, lift one leg at a time.
  3. Press the balls of your feet into the wall.
  4. Using the strength of your abdominal muscles, lean your torso back just enough for you to engage your abs and balance.
  5. Actively outstretch your arms in the direction of your knees or shins.
  6. Squeeze a yoga block, in its medium or narrow dimension, between your ankles or knees to activate your legs.
  7. Explore straightening your legs while you lift your chest upward.
  8. Gaze in an upward direction above your feet.
  9. Lengthen your back as you reach through the top of your head.
  10. Imagine your body is creating the letter “V.” Reach actively through your feet and head, the tops of the “V.”
  11. On your inhalation, fill your upper lungs and back. Engage your diaphragm and abdomen more enthusiastically on your exhalation.
  12. To exit the pose, bend your legs, place your hands on the floor, and return to a seated position.

How to Deepen Your Yoga Boat Pose: “Home Play” Experiments

Variation of woman performing Navasana with her feet on the wall.

  • Slowly increase the time you stay in this pose. Discover how you can remain relaxed when the posture becomes more demanding.
  • What movements or style of breathing maintain your abdomen strength?
  • Each time you practice Boat Pose, vary your distance from the wall. Eventually, practice with only the tips of your toes touching the wall, or completely remove your feet from the wall and balance on your own.


  • Stay aware of your spine and pelvic alignment to prevent discomfort in your lower back.
  • If you feel pain in your lower back, release the pose as soon as possible.

Try this Yoga Pose Variation: Wide Legs


  1. Follow the previous instructions for Boat Pose and separate your legs into a wide “V” position. Your knees can be slightly bent.
  2. Flex your feet and press your heels into the wall.
  3. Grasp the insides of your big toes with your index and middle finger, or hold the outsides of your feet.
  4. With the strength of your abdominal muscles, lean your torso back and extend through your arms.
  5. If it is available to you, explore straightening your legs.
  6. Expand your chest toward the wall, drawing your shoulder blades together and down your back.
  7. Lengthen your back as you reach through the top of your head.
  8. Engage your diaphragm and abdomen on your exhalations.
  9. To exit the pose, bring your legs closer together and bend your knees. Place your hands on the floor, and return to a seated position.
Stephanie Pappas, writer, yoga teacher, YogaUOnline contributor

Stephanie Ann Pappas, (aka Stefani) is a Somatic Experiencing® Practitioner (PTSD body-oriented trauma resolution), Licensed Massage Therapist in NJ and PA, and Yoga Teacher/Trainer. She currently has offices in Frenchtown, NJ, and Washington Crossing, PA, where she offers trauma-informed online sessions and classes.

Stephanie is the author of Yoga at Your Wall a book that inspires you to do more yoga. Whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced yoga student, Stephanie’s book Yoga at Your Wall offers an innovative and safe way to practice yoga.


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