Boat Pose, or Navasana in sanskrit, is a great counter pose for backbends. In Ashtanga primary series, five rounds of boat pose interspersed with mula bandha check ups, jump backs, and handstands are used to train the core and build strength before accessing the deep backbend that is full wheel (chakrasana or urdhva dhanurasana in sanskrit) – which is day 23 of the challenge.
If that all sounded like Greek to you, no worries! Boat pose is as simple as a mellow boat ride on a calm summer day. You can make it as chill or hot as you want with the modifications noted below.
- Begin seated, with your knees bent and soles of the feet on the floor. Hold onto the backs of your thighs for support and lift your heart as you lengthen the spine.
- Keep hold of the thighs as you rock back onto your sitting bones and begin to lift the toes off the floor. Keep your belly engaged, drawing navel to spine.
- If you feel steady and strong, lift calves parallel to the floor and release thighs, extending arms alongside the calves. Stay here and take five deep breaths, or read on for more challenge.
- To go deeper, straighten the legs. Want even more? Lift your arms overhead and bring biceps in line with ears.
- For a strong core workout, alternate five rounds of boat pose with “pick ups” – crossing ankles and pressing palms into the earth next to your hips, lift your hips off the ground. Then set it back down and head into another round of boat.