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What Is Boat Pose?
Full boat pose, also known as Paripurna Navasana (from the Sanskrit words “paripurna” meaning “full,” “nava” for “boat,” and “asana” for “posture”), is a seated yoga pose in which you extend your legs and arms so that your body resembles an upside-down capital “A.” This yoga posture involves core strength, coordination, and balance and can help strengthen the torso, stretch the hamstrings, and aid digestion.
3 Benefits of Boat Pose
Boat pose has a few benefits, including:
- Helps digestion. The diaphragm’s elevation during boat pose allows air to flow through the abdomen more freely, stimulating the internal organs. This airflow can help relieve pressure on both the liver and stomach, aiding digestion.
- Strengthens the torso. Boat pose opens the chest and engages the muscles in your core while also strengthening the hip flexors and adductor muscles (muscles that help with hip extension).
- Stretches the hamstrings. Boat pose can help alleviate tightness in the hamstrings, which can reduce flexibility or potentially lead to injury.
How to Do Boat Pose
Boat pose can be challenging for beginner yogis, but it is possible to achieve with the proper practice and technique:
- Take a seat. Sit on your mat with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
- Lift and balance. Lean back, slightly rolling your lower back so that your tailbone tucks under without making direct contact with the ground. Use this leverage to lift your legs off the floor while your buttocks help maintain balance. You can also place your hands behind the outside of your knees to help stabilize your form.
- Stretch and lengthen. While balancing on your sit bones, extend your legs out in front of you, slowly raising them into the air while you flatten your spine and lift your sternum towards the ceiling. Your body should form a V-shape at a 45-degree angle, with your sitting bones as the point of contact with the ground. Spread your shoulder blades wide and place your hands on the outside of your knees so your arms are parallel to the floor.
- Hold and release. Keep your breathing steady and your gaze fixed on your big toes. Hold this pose for up to one minute.
3 Tips for Performing Boat Pose
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Experts do not recommend performing an unmodified boat pose if you have an existing neck injury or are experiencing low blood pressure, asthma, or headaches because it can exacerbate these issues. If it’s your first time performing boat pose, check out the following tips:
- Ease in. Balancing in a V-shape with legs extending in the air can be a difficult position to maintain for beginners. You can start small by keeping your palms flat on the ground behind you (fingers pointing toward your hips) and slightly bend your knees. Alternatively, you can also keep your feet flat against the floor (resembling a sit-up position) to help practice aligning your back and engaging your abdominal muscles.
- Use a block. To help engage the thigh muscles, hold a prop, like a yoga block, between your inner thighs while you complete the stretch. Learn about yoga props in our complete guide.
- Focus on the ground. When performing boat pose for the first time, you may find your focus lies in elevating your legs or lifting your arms, making holding the pose more challenging. Instead, focus your attention on your point of contact with the floor and maintain steady breathing.
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