Boat Pose or Paripurna Navasana
Boat Pose (Paripurna Navasana) is a pose that can be performed daily and is useful for strengthening the core, the legs, lower back, kidneys, the thyroid, veins of the legs and improves posture and general positive body awareness.
Boat Pose Stage one; Sit in Dandasana (sit on sitting bones with legs straight out on the mat, feet together. Knees bend, arms extended out forward parallel with floor, palms facing each other, thumbs and shoulders suspended at the same level, extend the torso and knees away from each other into a V posture. Breathe in and out the nostrils slowly and deeply for 5 breaths. To break the pose, knees and chest come toward each other, the legs lower down to the mat and extend straight out in front, feet together. Relax. Take the pose 2-3 more times.
Boat Pose Stage two; begin in stage one, then knees extend to straight arms extended out forward parallel with floor, palms facing one another, thumbs and shoulders suspended at the same level. Extend into a V position and hold the pose breathing in out the nostrils through 5 slow, controlled, deep breaths. Break the pose; relax. Take the pose 2-3 more times.
Boat Pose Stage three; from stage two with the knees straight, core contracts as the arms extend upward and the feet and toes flex down toward the face, the first two fingers of each hand wrap around left and right big toes respectively. More vitality is called to hold this pose; the nervous system is stimulated and the musculature contracts more vigorously, stimulating and strengthening the heart. Control the breath to a slow, deep and regular rhythm for 5-breath count. (One inhalation with an exhalation counts as one breath). Come out of the pose and rest. Repeat 2-3 more times.
In all three stages the back is straight. Do not round the back. The bottom ribs (floating ribs) are depressed toward the spine.
If stage one is not possible, work on stretching the hamstrings and calves, as well the quads (front thigh), a static lunge to stretch the flexors of the hip is helpful before practicing the pose. Limber the spine with standing side bends, and cat A & B pose (also known as cat/cow pose), this is useful to gain awareness and control of the torso.
Balance is key in this pose in all stages of development. The core muscles are challenged, the lower back is engaged and not allowed to slump, the legs are charged with energy while giving the veins a restful break on their valves. This latter effect helps reduce pressure on varicose veins and superficial spider veins.
Boat Pose or Paripurna Navasana energizes the kidneys as the lower back muscles engage, excellent for those stressed adrenals or those with weak vitality (prana also called “chi”). Boat Pose when practiced daily is helpful with digestion, prostate health, the function of the thyroid, will power and speech.
Alternative: use a yoga strap around both feet if reach them if this is too difficult at the beginning or if breathing is erratic. Never compromise the elongation of the back or abdominal engagement. With regular practice power to the back and abdominal muscles should be returned a little at a time, until breathing has stabilized and the pose is can be maintained. Stage one and two is there for your use, use them to the realistic capacity of your body and calm in breathing; whatever that is today.
May all beings be at peace and prosper. Namaste.