How to Do Boat Pose in Yoga (Guide to Paripurna Navasana)

Boat pose requires a lot of abdominal strength and is something that many of us won’t master until well into our yoga journey. The beauty of achieving this pose is that it wakes up every part of your body – you’ll feel alive when practicing boat pose!

When working boat pose into your practice, take it slowly and start by focusing on perfecting variations that allow you to keep a straight spine. To build on your practice, once you’re able to practice full boat pose (the V shape), try moving in and out of boat pose by lowering your legs and torso down to the floor before bringing them back up into position.

“This is a wonderfully engaging pose to move into towards the end of your practice,” says Yoga Answered contributor Keira Shepherd. “After spending some time waking up your muscles, boat pose is a great way to bring all of your hard work together.”

Boat Pose Quick Look

Sanskrit Name: Paripurna Navasana
Pose Type: Core Yoga Poses, Seated Yoga Poses, Strengthening Yoga Poses
Difficulty Level: Intermediate pose
Targets: Core, quadriceps, hamstrings, lower back, calves, ankles, feet, glutes, pelvis
Benefits: Strengthens the core and quadriceps while stretching the hamstrings. As a balancing pose, boat pose activates the manipura chakra and sacral chakra as you connect to stillness in your body.
Preparatory Poses: Staff pose, garland pose, boat pose variation (see below)

How to Do Boat Pose Step-By-Step

  1. From a seated position on your mat, keep your spine straight as you lean backward by 30-40 degrees.
  2. As you lean back, bend your knees in towards your chest as you lift your feet away from the floor.
  3. Point your toes away to bring your shins and calves parallel to the ground beneath you and reach your arms alongside your lower legs.
  4. Take a breath in and, as you exhale, straighten your knees so that you have a straight line from your hips to the tips of your toes – your torso and legs should look like the letter ‘V’.
  5. Keep your core engaged and the legs lifted to around 45-degrees away from the floor.

Beginner’s Tip

Don’t be afraid to use props to make this pose more accessible for you. The focus is to maintain a straight back – your lower back to the top of your head should be in a line. This might mean that you need to add a bend to your knees, which is a great starting point.

Contraindications

  • Avoid practicing boat pose if you have any pain or injury in your shoulders and hips.
  • Do not practice this pose if you are pregnant or in the 6 weeks following birth.
  • Move gently out of this pose of practice the variation below if you experience any back pain.

Variations

Instead of pointing your toes towards the sky with straight legs, keep a bend in the knees so that your shins and calves stay parallel to the ground. You might also like to add a block between the knees to offer you more support in this pose. Keep your hands on the ground just behind your hips if lifting them compromises the straight line you’re aiming for in your spine.

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