How to: Boat Pose
Start seated on your mat with your knees bent and your feet flat. Slowly lean back, slightly rolling your tail bone under so it does not grind into the floor. As you lean back lift your legs off the floor so that you are now balancing on your butt. Lengthen and flatten your back, trying to eliminate any roundness or arching. Lift through your sternum or upper chest. Slide your shoulder blades toward each other behind you and keep lifting long through your neck and head.
Level One: Extend your arms and gently hold onto your knees. Your arms will be parallel to each other and to the floor. Your lower legs should also be parallel to the floor.
Level Two: Keep your legs the same but release your grip on your knees and energetically reach your hands toward your feet with your arms still parallel to the floor. A the same time keep your shoulders back to avoid a rounded back.
Level Three: Keeping all the previous instructions in mind, straighten your legs and maintain a flat back, lifted chest and long strong legs that are about a 45 degree angle to the floor. Keep them approximately eye level and keep your energy flowing in all directions. Breathe calm and deep. Hold for several breaths, challenging your abdominals, legs, hip flexors and back.
Benefits of Boat Pose
The role of Boat Pose is vast. When done properly and consistently, the most noticeable benefits include:
- Strengthens abdominals, hip flexors, and spine
- Stimulates kidneys, prostate, thyroid and intestines
- Relieves stress
- Improves digestion
For the lay person, this is a great pose to master for many reasons. The first and most popular reason is that it is a great way to improve the stomach muscles strength and tone. A popular variation is doing knee in and out motions while in this pose to further challenge the core. I recommend this pose because it works many areas at once. For example, holding this pose for several deep breaths will help to undo the forward bend we all are dictated by throughout our daily routines. It works the abs, opens the chest to increase lung capacity, stimulates the thyroid (with the position of the head) to increase metabolism, and strengthens and tones the legs, quadriceps and deep hip flexors known as the psoas. Increasing the power and potency of the psoas/ hip flexors helps the pelvis stay in better position for a more efficient stride.
Although you should always consult your physician and research a properly trained teacher before starting a yoga practice there are a few instances where you should avoid this pose entirely:
- Low blood pressure
- Neck issues or injury
Have fun exploring this pose and learning about your body
Gwen Lawrence has been a practicing fitness professional since 1990. Her current practice includes private yoga training, class instruction and her sport-specific Power Yoga for Sports training program www.poweryogaforsports.com. Gwen's unique combination of dance, massage and yoga training experience, coupled with her extensive knowledge of anatomy, nutrition and homeopathy, provide her clients, class participants and athletes with overwhelming benefits. Gwen is the yoga instructor for several New York Yankees baseball players, team yoga instructor for the New York Giants, New York Knicks, New York Red Bulls, and the Pace University baseball team; as well as many youth teams in a variety of sports. She is also the official spokesperson for AFRIN PureSea. Visit her website at www.poweryogaforsports.com