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Boat Pose (Navasana)

Boat Pose, known as Navasana in Sanskrit, is a core-strengthening yoga posture that challenges balance, stability, and abdominal strength. In this pose, the body resembles a boat, balanced on the sit bones with legs and torso lifted, creating a V-shape. Boat Pose not only tones the abdominal muscles but also engages the hip flexors, spine, and leg muscles, making it a comprehensive core workout.

Boat Pose (Navasana)

The name "Navasana" translates from Sanskrit as:

  • Nava: Boat

  • Asana: Pose

Together, it signifies the posture resembling a boat, emphasizing balance and strength.


Navasana is pronounced as:

  • Nuh-vah-suh-nuh


Anatomy of Boat Pose (Navasana)

Understanding the anatomy involved in Boat Pose helps appreciate its physical benefits and alignment cues:

Muscle Groups Engaged

  • Abdominals: Rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and obliques work to stabilize the torso.

  • Hip Flexors: Rectus femoris, iliopsoas, and tensor fasciae latae engage to lift and hold the legs.

  • Quadriceps: Front thigh muscles contract to straighten the knees and support the lifted legs.

  • Spinal Erectors: Muscles along the spine help maintain a straight and lifted posture.


Joint Involvement

  • Hip Joints: Flexibility and strength in the hips are crucial for maintaining the lifted legs.

  • Spine: Requires strength and alignment to keep the back straight and avoid rounding.


Boat Pose (Navasana): Steps / Instructions

  1. Start in a seated position on the mat with your legs extended in front of you and your spine tall.

  2. Bend your knees and bring your feet flat to the floor, keeping them hip-width apart.

  3. Place your hands slightly behind your hips, fingertips pointing toward your feet.

  4. Engage your core as you lean back slightly and lift your feet off the floor. Your shins should be parallel to the floor.

  5. Straighten your legs as much as you can, forming a V shape with your body. Keep your toes at eye level.

  6. Extend your arms forward alongside your legs, parallel to the floor. Palms can face each other or be turned upwards.

  7. Lengthen through your spine and lift your chest. Keep your shoulders relaxed away from your ears.

  8. Hold the pose for 10-30 seconds or longer, breathing deeply and maintaining steady engagement of your core muscles.

  9. To release, exhale, and lower your legs and torso back to the floor with control. Rest briefly before repeating or moving to another pose.

Boat Pose (Navasana)

When to do it

Boat Pose can be practiced during a yoga session to build core strength and stability. It's beneficial as part of a sequence focusing on abdominal muscles and overall body awareness. Avoid practicing immediately after meals to prevent discomfort.


Preparatory Poses

Prepare your body for Boat Pose with these poses:

  • Plank Pose: Strengthens the core and prepares for weight-bearing on the arms.

  • Bridge Pose: Engages the core and opens the chest, supporting spinal flexibility.

  • Boat Pose with Bent Knees: Practice with bent knees to build strength before straightening the legs.


Follow up Poses

After practicing Boat Pose, consider these poses to stretch and relax the body:

  • Child’s Pose (Balasana): Releases tension in the lower back and hips.

  • Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana): Stretches the hamstrings and calms the mind.

  • Supine Twist: Alleviates tension in the spine and improves spinal mobility.


Chakra

Boat Pose is connected to the Manipura Chakra, the Solar Plexus Chakra located in the upper abdomen. This chakra governs personal power, self-confidence, and digestion. Practicing Boat Pose helps balance and energize the Manipura Chakra, fostering inner strength and clarity.

Solar Plexus Chakra

Mantra for this Pose

A suitable mantra to enhance your practice of Boat Pose is: “Ram” (pronounced as Rahm)

Chanting the mantra "Ram" resonates with the qualities of the Solar Plexus Chakra, promoting confidence, willpower, and personal transformation.

 “Ram”

Alignment Cues

  • Core Engagement: Draw your navel towards your spine to activate the core muscles and stabilize the torso.

  • Legs: Keep your legs active and straight, engaging the quadriceps to maintain the V-shape.

  • Shoulders: Relax your shoulders away from your ears and broaden across the collarbones.

  • Spine: Lengthen through the spine, avoiding rounding or overarching the back.


Duration of Hold

Hold Boat Pose for 10-30 seconds initially, gradually increasing the duration as your strength and stability improve. Focus on maintaining proper alignment and breathing deeply

throughout the hold.


Drishti

Your drishti (gaze) in Boat Pose can be directed towards your toes or slightly upward to maintain balance and concentration. A steady gaze helps stabilize the mind and enhance focus during the pose.


Physical & Spiritual Awareness

Physical Awareness

  • Core Strength: Focus on engaging and strengthening the abdominal muscles throughout the pose.

  • Breath: Maintain steady, deep breathing to oxygenate the muscles and support endurance.

  • Alignment: Pay attention to alignment cues to prevent strain and maximize the benefits of the pose.


Spiritual Awareness

  • Manipura Chakra Activation: Connect with the energy of the Solar Plexus Chakra to enhance confidence and inner strength.

  • Mind-Body Connection: Cultivate mindfulness by synchronizing your breath with movement, deepening your practice.


Beginners’ tips

  • Start with Bent Knees: Begin with knees bent and gradually straighten them as you build core strength.

  • Use Props: Place your hands behind your thighs for support if lifting your arms is challenging.

  • Focus on Breath: Pay attention to your breath to stay calm and centered throughout the pose.


Who should not do it

  • Recent Abdominal Surgery: Avoid Boat Pose if you have undergone recent abdominal surgery or if it causes discomfort.

  • Lower Back Issues: Individuals with chronic lower back pain should modify or avoid the pose to prevent exacerbating symptoms.


Who should do it

  • Yoga Enthusiasts: Those looking to strengthen their core muscles and improve overall body control.

  • Athletes: Individuals seeking to enhance balance, stability, and abdominal strength for sports performance.

  • Desk Workers: Anyone wanting to counteract the effects of prolonged sitting and improve posture.


Benefits of Boat Pose (Navasana)

Physical Benefits

  • Core Strength: Tones and strengthens the abdominal muscles, including the rectus abdominis and obliques.

  • Hip Flexibility: Stretches and engages the hip flexors, improving flexibility and mobility.

  • Spinal Health: Strengthens the spinal muscles, promoting better posture and spinal alignment.

  • Balance and Stability: Enhances balance and stability through the engagement of core and leg muscles.


Mental and Emotional Benefits

  • Focus and Concentration: Requires mental focus, improving concentration and mindfulness.

  • Stress Relief: Calms the mind and reduces stress levels through mindful breathing.

  • Confidence: Boosts self-confidence and self-awareness as you achieve balance and stability.


Variations of Boat Pose (Navasana)

Advanced Variations

  • Half Boat Pose: Keep the legs and torso at a 45-degree angle to the floor for increased challenge.

  • Low Boat Pose: Lower the torso closer to the floor while keeping the legs lifted for a deeper core engagement.

  • Extended Boat Pose: Extend the arms overhead while maintaining the V-shape with the legs for a full-body stretch.


Simplified Variations

  • Bent Knee Boat Pose: Practice with knees bent and feet flat on the floor to reduce intensity.

  • Supported Boat Pose: Place your hands behind your thighs for support if lifting your arms is challenging.


Modifications for Boat Pose (Navasana)

  • Use of Props: Place a yoga block under your hands or thighs for added support and stability.

  • Knee Support: Keep your knees bent instead of straightening the legs fully to reduce strain on the lower back.

  • Focus on Form: Prioritize maintaining proper alignment and engaging the core muscles over achieving a deep V-shape.


Common Mistakes

  • Rounded Back: Avoid rounding the spine; instead, lengthen through the spine and keep the chest lifted.

  • Sinking Shoulders: Keep the shoulders away from the ears; engage the shoulder blades to stabilize the upper body.

  • Overarching Lower Back: Engage the core and tilt the pelvis slightly forward to avoid excessive arching in the lower back.


Safety and Precautions

  • Warm-Up: Always warm up your core muscles and spine before attempting Boat Pose to prevent injury.

  • Listen to Your Body: Respect your body’s limits and avoid pushing yourself too far beyond what feels comfortable.

  • Consult a Professional: If you have any concerns or medical conditions, consult with a yoga instructor or healthcare provider before attempting this pose.


Additional Preparation Tips

Direction to Face While Doing This Pose and Why

Face eastward while practicing Boat Pose to align with the energy of new beginnings and vitality. This direction can enhance your focus and intention during your practice.


What to Wear for This Pose

Choose comfortable, form-fitting clothing that allows for a full range of motion. Avoid loose clothing that may get in the way or distract you during the pose. Yoga pants or leggings with a fitted top are ideal choices to ensure freedom of movement and comfort during Boat Pose.


Suitable Place and Essential Oil or Fragrance

Select a quiet and spacious area for practicing Boat Pose, free from distractions. Consider using essential oils such as lavender or eucalyptus to promote relaxation and enhance focus during your yoga practice. These scents can create a soothing atmosphere that complements the physical and mental benefits of the pose.


Music for This Pose

Choose calming instrumental music or gentle nature sounds to accompany your practice of Boat Pose. Soft melodies and rhythms can help maintain concentration, deepen relaxation, and support a peaceful ambiance conducive to yoga practice.


Celebrate your progress and achievements in Boat Pose, whether it’s holding the pose for a few seconds longer or experiencing greater ease in maintaining alignment. Each practice session is an opportunity for growth and self-discovery, both on and off the mat.


Happy yoga-ing!

Namaste!



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4 comments

4 Comments

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Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Great infographics of the pose!

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Thank you! Namaste 🙏💜

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Guest
Jul 02
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Hi Pooja ji . I love your posts.

This pose is amazing. It really activates my core. However I find it difficult to maintain correct breathing while doing this pose. Kindly suggest.

Thank you.

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Replying to

I am happy to hear you enjoy the Boat Pose! Remember to inhale deeply as you lift and exhale fully as you hold. Try counting your breaths—inhale for four counts and exhale for four counts. This should help with maintaining correct breathing. Also, try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth, focusing on steady, rhythmic breaths. Consider practicing pranayama breathing techniques separately; they can improve your breathing control during poses. Namaste 🙏💜

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About the Author

Namaste! I'm Pooja Chauhan

RYT 200Hrs | Meditation Coach 

Diving deep into the realm of yoga to revive its original teachings to create a significant impact in preserving and sharing them with the world.

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