Navasana, or the boat pose, strengthens and tones the abdominal and lower back muscles. It also builds mental focus because this is a challenging pose and requires you to push through the discomfort to open and stretch your body. There are two stages—Stage 1 takes physical effort and mental focus, but it is not as challenging as Stage 2. If you find you cannot achieve the Stage 2 pose yet, repeat Stage 1. You will reap the same benefits, and with consistency and dedication, you will eventually achieve full navasana as you build your core muscles and sharpen your mind. Namaste.
1. Start from a sitting position on the floor, with legs straight out in front of you and hands resting flat on the floor beside the hips.
2. While exhaling, lean your body back slightly as you bend the knees and lift your legs off the floor. The shins should be parallel with the floor. Hold the back of your thighs with your hands.
3. Keep your back somewhat concave. Stretch arms forward so the palms are lightly touching the outside of the calves. Pull the shoulders back and lift the chest forward toward the knees.
4. Hold this position for several breaths, then release on exhale, rest, and repeat or move on to Stage 2.
1. From the bent knee pose in Stage 1, slowly straighten legs upward until fully extended. Your feet should be higher than your head. Using your core muscles, focus on keeping legs extended and upper body lifting upwards so that the back doesn’t round out.
2. For more advanced practitioners, interlace fingers behind head, keeping elbows wide. Do not sag into your lower back or collapse your chest toward your tummy. Hold for several breaths, then release on an exhale.
Source: Brown C. Boat pose (navasana). In: The Yoga Bible: The Definitive Guide to Yoga Postures. Cincinnati, OH: Walking Stick Press, 2003;178–179.