Boat Pose: Paripurna Navasana

Boat Pose: Paripurna Navasana Pose of the Month
Presented by Rachel Fagan

The pose name in Sanskrit translates to Complete Boat Pose. The body forms a V-like shape similar to that of a boat. When I teach this pose I start with props such as a strap to assist students to find the correct alignment of the spine because many beginning students have weak abdominal muscles.

This pose strengthens the rectus abdominus, spinal extensors, psoas major and rectus femoris (hip flexors), and the sternocleidomastoid (front neck) muscles. The weight of the body is balanced on the sit bones, while the front and back body work to keep the spine stable. Navasana is contraindicated for pregnant students or those with current back pain.

Start here:

Using a long strap looped around the body as shown here helps you keep the legs up and allows you to hold the pose longer so you can focus on spinal alignment while keeping the low back safe.

Make a large loop in a 10-foot strap.

Sit on the mat with your knees bent and your legs together.

Slip the loop over your head and around the shoulder blades. Place the other end of the loop around both feet at the ball mounds. Adjust the loop length so it is taut. Sit with a lengthened spine.

Reach both hands behind your hips, with the fingers pointing forward. Press your fingertips into the mat and extend the spine. Recline your torso back and keep the spine long. Simultaneously extend both legs forward and upward. Press your ball mounds against the strap and stabilize the spine by using both the front and back body. Balance your weight on the sit bones.

Lower the legs onto the mat for a couple of breaths and then repeat the pose 3-5 times.

Make sure not to hold the breath, but breathe normally.

Consistent and dedicated practice of navasana strengthens the abdominals and the abdominal organs. Once these areas are strong, try the pose without a strap.

Sources:

Yoga Anatomy by Leslie Kaminoff
Light on Yoga by BKS Iyengar
Yoga, the Path to Holistic Health by BKS Iyengar

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