The Boat Pose (Navasana) activating the internal organs, produces strength in your hip flexors as well as your spine and abdomen including your intestines, thyroid gland, prostate gland, and kidneys.
Meaning + Origin
- The name Navasana comes from the Sanskrit words: Nav + Asana
- “Nav” = “boat”
- “Asana” = “pose or posture”
- There are two variations:
- Ardha Navasana (Half Boat Pose)
- Paripurna Navasana (Full Boat Pose)
- “Ardha” = “half” (refers to the bent-knee variation of the pose)
- “Paripurna” = “complete” or “full” (refers to the deepest expression of the posture), with the legs and arms fully extended and raised, forming the V-shape of a small boat.
Boat Pose (Navsana) was from the yoga world long ago, starting to talk about core strength and new changes on leg lift for core strength. It remains one of the best ways to focus on your abdominal strength, which helps you perform many other yoga postures, most notably gravity-deflection arm balance and inversion.
|Also known as:||Boat Pose, Navasana, Naukasana, Complete Boat Pose, Paripurna Navasana|
|Sanskrit name:||नावासन; परिपूर्णनावासन|
|Pronunciation:||nah-VAHS-uh-nuh; pahr-ee-POOR-nah nah-VAHS-uh-nuh|
|Total time:||10–20 seconds plus|
|Drishti:||Forward, at big toes|
|Preparatory poses:||Surya namaskar, Virabhadrasana I, Prasarita Padottanasana, Baddha Konasana|
|Follow-up poses:||Paschimottanasana, Utkatasana, Adho Mukha Svanasana|
|Indications:||Kidneys, energizes thyroid, prostate|
|Contraindications:||Menstruation, Pregnancy (keep knees bent); low back or neck injury (keep knees bent), asthma, low blood pressure, headache, diarrhea, insomnia|
Benefits of Boat Pose (Navasana)
There are many variations of this Navasana, such that the benefit is the same, but below are some physical and mental benefits of this yoga pose:
- Physical Benefits:
- Strengthens the legs, hips, groin, abdomen, and arms
- Opens the chest, shoulders, and throat
- Builds core strength
- Improves posture
- Lengthens the spine and neck
- Improves balance, digestion, and circulation
- Mental Benefits:
- Develops focus
- Improves concentration
Step-by-step Boat Pose (Navasana)
Start by sitting on the ground with the legs stretched out in front of you.
Place the hands on the ground slightly behind the hips, with your fingers pointing forward, and press them into the ground. Arch the chest and slightly lean the body backward. Keep the spine straight as you do this.
Sit tall. Focus on elongating the front of the body between the pubis and the top of your chest. Sit on top of the sitting bones and over your tailbone.
Exhale and bend the knees, with your feet on the ground at first. Arch the chest and slightly lean the body backward. Keep the spine straight and tall.
Keeping the chest tall and the spine straight, walk your feet on your tippy-toes, bringing them closer to the hips. This will naturally mean you lean slightly back to keep the balance.
Raise first one foot off the ground and then the second one. Don’t worry about straightening the legs at this point, experiment with this until you are comfortable enough with this to have both feet off the ground at the same time.
The boat allows you much freedom of positioning. While you are experimenting with your balance, don’t forget to activate the feet. You can point the toes or flex the feet, this is a particularly good position in which to practice spreading each toe out and stretching them all apart.
Resist the natural tendency to hunch the back; keep the spine straight, the neck continuing the line of the backbone up through the top of your head.
As you gain confidence in balancing, straight backed, with both legs off the ground, begin to experiment with straightening the legs. Eventually you want to be able to balance on the hips with both legs straight in the air, at a 45-degree angle to the ground. Elongate the tailbone downward and raise the pubis toward your belly button. If you can, straighten the knees by raising the tips of the toes above eye level.
When you are comfortably balanced, extend the arms to the side and separate the shoulder blades, reaching outward through the tips of the fingers. Keep the lower stomach firm and flat. Anchor yourself into the ground by pressing the tops of the thighs downward, while lifting the top of the chest even further.
Continue to breathe steadily, keep your neck straight and long, an extension out of the top of the spine. Your chin should feel slightly tucked down, but the jaw should feel loose.
Start off easy with this yoga pose. Gradually work the way up until you can sustain this pose for 60 seconds at a time.
To release yourself from this position, exhale and bend the legs, lowering the feet to the ground. Inhale and return to the starting position.
Props and Modification of Boat Pose
- Beginners: Some beginners find it difficult to straighten their legs completely. An easy modification is to bend your knees slightly until your hamstrings are loose. Stay more balanced while resting your hands on the floor behind you.
- Advanced: For a more challenging pose, hold your hands behind your head and lower your legs slightly. Lift up in full posture and repeat.
- Weak knees: If this pose causes discomfort in your knees, keep them bent.
- Weak shoulders: Weak hands rise up while arms are extended. Remember to keep your collarbone down to reduce discomfort.
Contraindications of Navasana
Some precautions to keep in mind while practicing the Boat Pose (Navasana), which is given below:
- As the abdominal muscles are put to work, an individual with a weak digestive system needs to be cautious while practicing this yoga pose. The constriction of these muscles can affect the stomach and intestines if one is already suffering from a weak digestive system. But with proper guidance and precautions, this yoga pose can be practiced at a slower level.
- The lower back is kept in this yoga posture to work here, so if an individual is suffering from severe back issues or if one is recovering from a slip disc, then he should avoid this yoga posture altogether.
- An individual who suffers from high blood pressure should take caution or guidance while practicing Boat Pose (Navasana), as the chest and upper body will feel very stretched if done incorrectly or if there is an alignment issue.
- There will be tension on the abdomen during pregnancy if this posture is practiced for the lower back and legs tightness, so it is better to avoid this yoga posture during pregnancy as a precaution.
- Since a lot of pressure is felt on the core and lower abdomen to maintain this balance in this yoga posture, it is avoided during the menstrual cycle of women.
- If there is any kind of injury to the hip, knee, ankle, or neck, it is best to avoid Boat Pose (Navasana).