Boat Pose, or Paripurna Navasana, is a great pose for building balance while drawing in your full concentration. As you hold the position, you will strengthen every part of your core. A fairly strenuous pose, beginners will need to work on their balance before moving on to deeper variations.
1.) Sit on a mat with your legs in front of you. Bend your knees with your feet flat on the mat. Put your hands on the mat on either side of you. Breathe.
2.) Gently lift your feet up off the floor while leaning back to counterbalance the weight distribution. Keep your spine straight. Lift your feet until your shins are parallel to the floor.
3.) Lengthen your torso. Lift your hands up off the mat, straighten your arms, and point them toward the end of the mat, parallel with the floor. Your palms should be face up.
4.) Breathe. Lengthen your spine. Focus on your balance. Then straighten your legs. You should now be in a “V” shape. Your spine and legs should be perpendicular to each other. Both should be straight. Your arms should be parallel with the floor.
Boat Pose requires your entire body to be balanced, from the head all the way down to the toes. This is a great pose for building balance throughout your whole body, core strength, stability and calmness.
Boat Pose requires you to engage every body part by holding all of your limbs out, unsupported, for a length of time. This builds arm strength, leg strength, and core strength, all at the same time. Just about every athletic activity benefits from that kind of overall body strength.
Boat Pose is wonderful for building concentration. During that time period that you are in Boat Pose, everything is stationary. Everything is fairly motionless. Your concentration must remain wholly engaged in order to keep all of that body parts in their proper alignment and balanced with each other.
If you do not have the leg strength to fully extend your legs, or if your hamstrings are too tight, it’s fine to hold the pose in the knees-bent position. Just having your legs up off the mat, and your body back in balance, is an effective workout.
If you find you tend to tip over while working on Boat Pose, put down your hands on the mat. Point your fingertips toward the end of the mat. Let them support you while you get the hang of balancing with your legs up off the floor. To slightly increase the challenge from here, put your hands around your thighs and hold them to counter-balance yourself.
Another way to gently increase the amount of stretch you provide in a supported manner is to use straps. Put a strap around the bottom of each foot. Hold onto that strap with your hands. That lets you stretch your legs out further while also providing a way to counter-balance yourself.
If you are seeking additional challenge with Boat Pose, instead of stretching your arms out toward your toes, instead clasp them behind your head. This will be as if you are doing in-air sit-ups. When you exhale, lower your legs slightly. Lower your spine slightly toward the mat. When you inhale, raise your legs and back both into the full V position again.
When you are doing Boat Pose, be aware of how your stomach and abdomen feel. If that front belly is getting rock hard, then you are stressing the wrong muscles. Gentle the pose by bending your legs or by supporting yourself with your hands. Only move forward into the full pose when your entire body is ready for it.