Paripurna Navasana: “Full Boat Pose”
Take advantage of this human boat;
Free yourself from sorrow’s mighty stream…
– Shantideva: “The Way of the Bodhisattva” –
Skill level: Beginner
Because it’s summer, and we all love the idea of spending our weekends out on the ocean, especially now that the weather is nice, I decided “Boat pose” would be a great way to help us create our own vessel to physical strength and inner calmness.
Boat pose is all about endurance and vitality. It teaches us to breathe through challenges in our lives while remaining strong in our core…in our inner being.
Whenever I need an energetic boost in the morning, or a little confidence if I am feeling shaken, I use Boat pose as an instant adrenaline shot. It increases my brightness and warmth of body and spirit.
Boat pose teaches those who try it to become self-sufficient, creating one’s own vessel, one’s own inner rescue ship, in times of need.
Boat Pose is one of those old tried and true poses that has descendant poses and exercises in everything from Ballet, to core training, to Pilates. The pose cuts right to the core and helps build strength in your arms, lower and upper back, shoulders, hip flexors and quads.
The pose helps with intestinal problems, bloating, thyroid and kidney problems.
Weaknesses in your body and mental state become very apparent, very quickly in this pose… so don’t become discouraged if you notice you may that have as strong of abs, or legs as you thought, or if you are unable to hold the pose as long as you wanted to. This pose will quickly become a favorite in your practice to help build strength in some of these hidden muscles, and train your brain and spirit to stay the course.
To get into the pose follow these simple steps:
1. Sit on the center of your yoga mat Pull in your legs and grab your upper legs on the back side below the knees. Tilt your upper body backwards so that your lower back carries your weight and the entire upper back is aligned in a straight perpendicular line.
2. With the help of your arms, hands on the back your thighs, pull your knees in close to your chest while remaining upright, balancing slightly tilted back on your tailbone. In this position, be careful t not get lazy, keep your upper back from arching forward and remain engaged in your core, lifting up towards the sky.
3. Extend your arms so they are parallel to the floor.
4. Stretch your legs and feet together, legs extended out at a 60 degree angle.Stretch tops of the feet so they are almost pointed but spread the toes t a flexed position, really pushing the energy out through the legs and out through the tips of the toes.
5. Keeping the back as straight as possible, pulling the shoulder blades together back and down. Bring your arms along the body parallel to the floor and focus on a particular spot for your balance. I like to focus at the space between my ankles.
5. Cultivate Ujayii breathe…”ocean breathe”
6. The aim in this pose is to remain open in the upper chest, letting your heart feel like it is moving forward, while you remain steady and strong in your core, constantly pulling those abs in. Don’t stick your chin out, but keep your spine aligned, moving shoulder blades down from the ears, down the back.
After getting into the pose, try to remain with an open-heart and strength, and ask yourself to remain in this state for as many breathes as possible before coming down and relaxing for a few breathes on your back. Try to do about two rounds of this.
Notice which parts of your body are having the hardest time enduring, or which get sore quickly. That will help you tailor your practice to build strength in those specific areas.
7. You can make the pose more advanced by lower the legs even further until the shins are parallel to the ground. Also you can twist slowly from side to side while up in Boat pose to maximize the abdominal strength training.
8. Afterward, lie on you back in savasana (corpse pose) and meditate on the challenge that your just endured.
Do not strain yourself too much if you feel you need to come out of the pose. But keep strong, lifted and endure as long as possible. This pose helps brighten your spirit and increase your ability to be bold in the face of obstacles.
Note: if you have lower/upper back problems, consult a yoga practitioner before beginning this pose.