Navasana, translates to Boat Posture. It comes after the Marichyasana poses from the Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series. Boat Pose is an excellent posture for both new and experienced yoga practitioners. The asana helps students build a combination of strength, flexibility, balance and mental focus, when practiced regularly.
This is the eighteenth pose of the Ashtanga Yoga Primary series, and the thirteenth seated posture in that series.
Navasana tends to be a challenging posture, no matter how flexible or strong you are. Even if you can extend your legs rather easily and hold the first Navasana, by the fifth one, many students find it challenging to sit up straight and breathe freely in this posture. If the full expression of Navasana is a challenge, be sure to check out the modifications for this pose below.
Boat pose is a dynamic posture that helps to improve our posture by strengthening the muscles that support postural alignment, including the back, core, psoas, and quadriceps. When done properly, Navasana will lengthen the front of the body, creating a more natural upright posture. Navasana, due to its strong focus on core strength, massages the internal organs of the body, which can aid in improving digestion. And my favorite benefit to practicing this posture is the mental focus necessary to do Navasana 5x with a lift between each one. It’s hard to maintain incredible focus on the breathe and bandhas and body position, but with consistent practice, doing this asana builds strong mental focus!
Over time, Boat Pose helps students gain more overall body awareness, balance, focus and mental strength. Below you’ll find instructions for practicing this posture, both the full expression and modifications that will safely help you build up the strength to do the full expression of this asana over time. Start with the modifications so they assist you in keeping your back flat, your head up, the front of your body long and over time you’ll build the strength necessary to practice the full expression with ease.
The full expression of this posture is NOT recommended if you are pregnant. Some women will find they can easily still do this asana while pregnant, but it puts too much pressure on your abdominal wall and therefore is better done in a modification form during pregnancy.
Navasana is a wonderful posture but can be quite a challenge if you have tightness in your back or hips, or weakness in your core or back. There is a lot to think about in the posture, oppositions of force, lengthening, engaging, reaching while breathing and engaging your bandhas. Let’s take a step by step look at how to do Navasana
Tap here to watch a step-by-step tutorial video on 2 modifications/variations and the full expression of Navasana.
Step-by-Step Instructions for the Full Expression of Navasana
The Primary Series Sequence is a brilliant flow from posture to posture whereby each practiced asana prepares you for the ones to follow. Navasana is no different, as it’s important to be good and warm when entering the pose. You’ll start to add this posture into your Ashtanga Yoga primary series practice right after you finish Marichyasana D.
- After taking Marichyasana D left side, take your Vinyasa and jump through to seated
- Lean back slightly and extend your arms out in front of you, hip width apart.
- At the same time, draw your belly in, open your chest and lift your feet of the floor.
- Work to keep your lower legs straight with toes pointed. Your goal is to keep your toes in line with your eye level.
- Continue to elongate your back, chest lifted and gaze diagonally up.
- Breath evenly for five deep breaths.
- At the end of your fifth breath, cross your legs and bring your hands to the floor and press your whole body off the floor on your inhale. Exhale back down to the ground.
- Then, take the second of five in Navasana position. Extend your arms in front of you in line with your eyes, lean back and lift your feet off the floor with straight legs.
- Point your toes, look to your toes, keep your head up, back flat and take five deep breaths.
- At the end of your fifth breath, cross your legs, bring your hands to the floor, keep your head and chin up and inhale to lift your body off the floor. On your exhale, lower back down and begin Navasana #3.
- Repeat steps above for Navasana #3, #4, and #5.
- After your fifth breath in your last Navasana position, simply cross your legs and take your vinyasa – no need to lift up for one breath after #5, simply Vinyasa.
Tap here to watch a step-by-step tutorial video on 2 modifications and the full expression of Navasana.
While the step by step instructions are for getting into the full expression of Navasana, there are several wonderful variations or modifications you can take to start where you are and safely work towards the full expression of the posture.
Never feel ashamed of starting with modifications for yoga postures. It is far safer to work with modifications to build the strength and flexibility necessary to execute postures correctly. If you find you have weakness and/or limited flexibility in your back, hip flexors or hamstrings you will find it difficult to keep your back straight in the full expression of Boat Pose.
Starting from Downward Facing Dog, walk or jump through to seated position. Bend your knees, extend your arms out in front of you hip width apart, and lean back making sure you keep your back straight and your head up. Take five deep breaths here.
Be sure to engage mula bandha with each inhale and uddiyana bandha with each exhale. After your fifth exhale, cross your legs, bring your hands to the floor halfway between your hips and knees. Keeping your head up and eyes forward, inhale and press through your hands and try to lift your hips off the floor keeping your feet on the mat. Exhale, lower back down.
Then begin your second Navasana with knees bent, arms extended, head and eyes forward, leaning back with a straight spine. Take five deep breaths there. On your fifth exhale, cross your legs and repeat the lift. Then repeat Navasana and the lift three more times total. After your fifth breath in your fifth Navasana, take your Vinyasa.
Starting from Downward Facing Dog, walk or jump through to seated position. Bend your knees, extend your arms out in front of you hip width apart, and lean back making sure you keep your back straight and your head up. Then lift one of your two legs up off the floor and extend it up and out as you take your five deep breaths. Please focus on engaging mula bandha with each inhale and uddiyana bandha with each exhale. After your fifth exhale, cross your legs, bring your hands to the floor halfway between your hips and knees. Keeping your head up and eyes forward, inhale and press through your hands and try to lift your hips and feet. Exhale, lower back down.
Preparing for Navasana #2, extend your arms, bend your knees and lift your chest as you lean back. Take the other leg off the floor and extend it forward, being sure to keep your back flat and chest lifted. Take five deep breaths there. On your fifth exhale, cross your legs and repeat the lift. Then repeat Navasana and the lift three more times total, alternating the extended leg each time. On the fifth and final Navasana, either attempt the full expression with both legs straight, OR if you are fatigued, do the last Navasana with both feet on the floor and knees bent (Modification 1). After your fifth breath in your fifth Navasana, take your Vinyasa.
Shaking in Boat Pose
If you find that you are shaking when you do this posture, do not fret! It’s normal for new students to shake as they work to build up the necessary strength in postures. This is a result of your musculature starting to fatigue. When that happens, be sure to take the next Navasana of the five in a modified position so you don’t compromise your lower back! Over time, as you get stronger, the shaking will cease. So let the shaking be a gauge for your continued improvement of this posture.
Don’t allow the aesthetic of the posture to compromise your body position. It is FAR more important to have a straight back in Boat Pose than straight legs. When you find yourself getting fatigued and your back rounding, be sure to take a modification of the posture to ensure your back is straight and chest lifted. It’s perfectly ok if your knees need to bend to allow your spine to straighten, then let your knees bend.
The most important thing to focus on in this posture is keeping your back straight. Bending both knees or keeping one leg on the floor are extremely useful modifications, allowing the pelvis and spine to create a long erect line, while working to strengthen your hips and core.
Why I love this Pose:
Navasana was a very difficult posture for me. When I came to yoga I had tremendous weakness in my core. I found this posture to be dreadful! But, I kept practicing it day after day. Over time I improved the pose and felt empowered as I grew stronger. I too started with the modifications to build the necessary strength in my psoas and core. And to learn how to properly hold my spine in space. Now, I love this pose! It feels so good to be able to ground my body down into the floor through my sits bones, while at the same time lift my legs and work to breath and keep my body strong and steady.
Tap here to watch a step-by-step tutorial video on 2 modifications and the full expression of Navasana.
❤️ If you would like to learn yoga with me online, you can do so through my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/@yogawithkrista
Our mission is to help as many people as possible find wholeness in their lives through totally free, high quality yoga videos. We welcome all levels, all people, all bodies, all genders, absolutely everyone! SUBSCRIBE to the channel and join wholeness (Olotita) movement! ❤️
Yoga Tutorial Playlist:
❤️ Yoga is truly accessible to everyone! The hardest part is showing up. Tap here to access the Yoga Tutorial Playlist on Youtube.
I am a level II authorized Ashtanga Yoga teacher. I am deeply passionate about sharing these teachings with all who wish to learn.
If you want to join me in person I teach daily classes at The Yoga Shala in Winter Park, Florida. I also offer virtual sessions in Yoga, Meditation, Breath-work, Nutrition, Life Coaching and Mentorship. Check out www.theyogashala.org for more details.
If you do not live in Central Florida and want to find an authorized teacher in your area, check out my teacher, Sharath Jois’ website, for a list of all teachers authorized and certified by his yoga centre in India.
Stay in touch:
❤️Be sure to join our newsletter to stay on top of local events and classes, Nysa products sales, new offerings, new products and more! ❤️
❤️We appreciate all your support. If you’d like to donate to our channel: Paypal
Krista@olotita.com.dream.website. Please put “donation” in your message. Thank you.
❤️SHOP MERCHANDISE: Nysa Products
❤️CLASSES & PRIVATE INSTRUCTION: If you would like to book your spot for my upcoming group engagements or work privately with me on an individual basis please visit: www.theyogashala.org
❤️SOCIAL MEDIA: You can catch other content by following me on:
❤️For other inquires please contact: email@example.com
❤️Thank you for liking, subscribing, and sharing our videos!❤️
❤️ Namaste ❤️