When you think of Paripurna Navasana (Boat Pose), you probably think of holding an abs-olutely core-crushing position. Yes, the pose does work your abdominal muscles, but it also strengthens your hip flexors, adductors (groin), and the lower back muscles that support your spine.
You’ll dig deep in Boat Pose to extend, expand, and open your body while pushing through heat and discomfort.You’ll build the core strength required for inversions and arm balances like Crow or Firefly.
And let’s face it: a strong core is key. It helps you stand taller, helps prevent injury, and makes you better at other activities like running or rock climbing. If you don’t have the core strength to hold Full Boat Pose with your arms and legs outstretched yet, hold on to your legs behind your knees. In time, you’ll find the pose smooth sailing.
Pose Name Basics
Sanskrit: Paripurna Navasana
Pose type: Seated
Target areas: Core
Why we love it: I do Boat Pose incrementally with bent knees, holding the back of my legs. Once I find my balance and am past the wobbly phase, I slowing straighten my legs. This step-by-step approach focuses me on each step and, once I reach the peak pose, I feel like I am floating. In my experience, is a micro adjustment of the pelvis that aligns my spine.—Sarah LaVigne, Contributing Photo Editor
Boat Pose builds focus and body awareness. It can boost energy and fight fatigue, and help build confidence and empowerment. Boat Pose also improves posture and counteracts the effects of prolonged sitting and doing computer work by strengthening your core and thighs.
Boat Pose Step-By-Step Instruction
- Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. Press your hands on the floor a little behind your hips, fingers pointing toward the feet, and strengthen the arms. Lift through the top of the sternum and lean back slightly. As you do this make sure your back doesn’t round; continue to lengthen the front of your torso between the pubis and top sternum. Sit on the “tripod” of your two sitting bones and tailbone.
- Exhale and bend your knees, then lift your feet off the floor, so that the thighs are angled about 45-50 degrees relative to the floor. Lengthen your tailbone into the floor and lift your pubis toward your navel. If possible, slowly straighten your knees, raising the tips of your toes slightly above the level of your eyes. If this isn’t possible remain with your knees bent, perhaps lifting the shins parallel to the floor.
- Stretch your arms alongside the legs, parallel to each other and the floor. Spread the shoulder blades across your back and reach strongly out through the fingers. If this isn’t possible, keep the hands on the floor beside your hips or hold on to the backs of your thighs.
- While the lower belly should be firm, it shouldn’t get hard and thick. Try to keep the lower belly relatively flat. Press the heads of the thigh bones toward the floor to help anchor the pose and lift the top sternum. Breathe easily. Tip the chin slightly toward the sternum so the base of the skull lifts lightly away from the back of the neck.
- At first stay in the pose for 10-20 seconds. Gradually increase the time of your stay to 1 minute. Release the legs with an exhalation and sit upright on an inhalation.
Teaching Boat Pose
- Practice this posture in the beginning of class to fire up your core for the rest of your practice.
- Counter core work with gentle twists or backbends.
Boat Pose Variation
Bent-Knee Boat Pose
Try with your knees bent to lessen the effort and take pressure off your low back. You can bring your hands behind you on the floor for support.