stick figure doing navasana (boat pose in yoga)

boat pose – paripurna navasana

(Last Updated On: February 14, 2021)

Ahh, yes. Abs. The bane of every yoga students existence (well, the majority I’ll say). Love it or hate it, boat pose (paripurna navasana in Sanskrit) is a great pose to strengthen the hip flexors and abdominals, as well as challenge your balance.

getting into the pose

Sit on the floor with your feet on the floor and your knees bent. Lift through the chest as you lengthen your spine and broaden across the collar bone.

Extend your arms out in front of you, palms facing toward one another. Keep your arms and hands active, continuously reaching through your fingertips.

Begin to lean back and to find balance between your two sit bones and your tail bone. Gradually begin to lift the toes off the ground until the shins are parallel to the floor. Stay here, or straighten the legs for the full expression.

upper body

  • Keep reaching forward with the arms
  • Spread shoulder blades strongly across your upper back
  • Keep lifting through the sternum
  • Lengthen the space between pubic bone navel, navel and sternum
  • Release your trapezius, relax your shoulders down away from the ears
  • Keep navel drawing in toward spine, without letting your belly harden
  • Keep your head in line with your spine

lower body

  • Anchor the tops of your thigh bones deep in the pelvis and lift from that connection through the front of your spine
  • Reach through the balls of your feet and your big toe if your legs are extended; spread your toes
  • Ground down into your base (sit bones & tailbone) to achieve more lift in the chest

benefits

  • Strengthens hip flexors & abdominals
  • Challenges balance
  • Improves concentration & focus
  • Improves digestion
  • Strengthens low back

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contraindications

  • Pregnancy
  • Neck injury
  • Cardiac issues
  • Headaches
  • Low blood pressure
  • Diarrhea

modifications

  • If lifting the legs is too challenging, work millimeter by millimeter – lift the toes barely off the ground, and decrease the bend in your knees a little each week.
  • Practice with a wall behind you for support
  • Use a strap to loop around your feet to practice full extension of the legs
  • Alternate between full boat (paripurna navasana – legs extended) and half boat (ardha navasana – knees bent) for an abdominal workout & toner. For more intensity, lower heels and head to a hover when coming to half boat.

Other yoga pose guides:

stick figure doing a yoga pose - navasana (boat pose)

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