HOW TO PRACTICE Boat Pose IN YOGA (Navasana)
Benefits, How to Instructions, Modifications, and Common Alignment Mistakes for Boat Pose
Boat Pose (Sanskrit name: Navasana) is a challenging core-strengthening yoga posture that engages the abdominal muscles, muscles of the back, and hip flexors. Like a small boat floating on the surface of the ocean, in Navasana you must balance on your sit bones, while raising your torso and legs. Your body must work to find stability via gentle shifts of weight. Too big a “wave” of movement and your Boat Pose will topple over!
The ability to modify to suit your level of physical conditioning makes this a pose beginning yoga students can tackle and practice at progressively increasing levels of difficulty.
Defining the Core
The term “core” is often-overused and confused with just the abdominal muscles. In fact, the core is comprised of the structures that support the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex. That is to say, the lumbar spine, pelvic girdle, abdomen and hip joints. The deep core is the body’s center of gravity, the place in the body from which all other movement originates.
A strong, efficient core is necessary to maintain erect posture and muscular balance for the entire body. Proper development and recruitment of the core muscles is necessary for the neuromuscular system to function efficiently in movement, balance, and stability. Some of the deeper muscles include: transversus abdominis, multifidus, diaphragm, and the muscles of the pelvic floor. Secondary muscles include the deep hip flexors and obliques. When you are doing real core work, you are addressing all of the structures of the core, not simply the abdominal muscles.
Benefits of Boat Pose
Boat Pose is a great core strengthening yoga asana that helps to tone and build stamina in the abdominal muscles, hip flexors, and spinal support muscles. While Boat Pose largely engages the abdominal muscles, the psoas and iliacus (hip flexor) muscles also play a big part, depending on the angle of the legs. The hip flexors must engage in order to hold the yoga pose’s “V” shaped position. The lower the legs are to the floor, the greater the challenge to the deep hip flexors. The erector muscles of the spine, spinal extensor muscles, and quadriceps will also be actively engaged to hold the spine erect.
If practiced with sufficient strength and stability, Navasana can also help strengthen the link between the lumbar spine, pelvis, and sacrum. Using the breath to deepen the effect will amplify the core strengthening aspect of this posture. Because Boat Pose engages the muscles that interact directly with the spine, it’s a great yoga pose to practice for improving postural support.
- Sit with a block between your thighs (in the narrowest position).
- Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor in front of you.
- Place your hands on the floor behind you and find a seated position where you are sitting perched on top of your sitting bones.
- Place your hands on the backs of your thighs, just above your knees, and use your arms to pull your chest forward through the gates of your arms.
- Lift your chest up and forward, and then lift one bent leg off the ground. Maintain the length in your spine. When you feel stable, try lifting the second bent leg off the ground.
- Stay here or release your hands and bring your arms parallel to the floor.
- Take one more breath and then release your feet back to the floor.