One-pose wonder: Boat pose

I have to admit, navasana has never been on my list of favorite poses. But as your yoga practice matures, you slowly accept that maybe those poses are the ones you need to work on the most. Perhaps it was the 5 in a row (with lift-ups in between) in my Ashtanga practice that caused me to lose the love, but I have grown to like it, after I learned how to be less serious about it and play more. Ashtanga is a beautiful practice that encourages many positive qualities to emerge, but it can also be rigid. Anyhow, after 4 days on a sailboat in the Caribbean the other week, I simply had to do boat pose on the boat. It gives me a little thrill to share these pix. Please note that they were taken while we were sailing, so I had the ultimate balance challenge!

Boat pose strengthens your core, your back, and your balance.

The how-to:

  • Start in a seated position, firmly grounded through the sit bones. I like to reach back and get my bum cheeks out of the way to be more grounded. Start to lean back, and bend your knees, just touching your toes to the floor.
  • Use your hands for balance as you engage your core by drawing your navel in towards your spine. Lift the toes off the ground a few inches, and notice if your low back starts to sag. This is one of your biggest challenges in boat pose: how to keep the low back stable and lifting. Practice stabilizing through the low back here before taking it further.
  • Lift your feet up so the shins become parallel with the floor, extending the arms along side the shins. Check in with your low back. You can modify by taking your hands underneath your knees for support (not pictured), which should help you be able to lift your low back more if it was collapsing.
  • For the full pose, point your toes and straighten your legs, drishti at your toes. Arms stay parallel to the floor.
  • Hold for 5-10 breaths. Repeat 2-3 times. A fun thing to do in between boats is to cross your ankles, lean forward and push off your hands and feet to lift your seat into the air. I know, hard without a visual, but read it a few times and see if you get it.
  • When you finish, take a neutralizing downward dog for 5-10 breaths.

I also really like this detailed exploration of navasana by Yoga Journal. Namaste.