Navasana or as it is often called Naukasana is named after the shape your body takes when you practice this pose. Nauka/Nav means boat in English; thus, it is known as the Boat Pose. It is one of the intermediate seated balancing poses which requires immense core strength and stability.
Technically speaking, your body forms a V shape with your upper body and legs suspended in the air and supported by the core muscles and tailbone. Here your entire body weight is supported by your buttocks or sitting bones.
Navasana improved the strength of your pelvic floor, hip flexors, thigh muscles, abdominal muscles, and back. It is a great pose to improve your balance and enhance endurance.
Practicing navasana is also sometimes recommended for people who have to sit continuously to work and have a rounded spine.
Let us see the steps to perform this pose and its benefits.
How to do Navasana (Steps)
- Sit in Dandasana (Staff pose) with your legs stretched out straight and hands beside your body. Keep your back and head straight.
- Bend your knees to firmly place your feet on the ground. Bring your hands to hold the back of your knees.
- Engage your thighs and abdominal muscles to start lifting your lower legs till the shins are parallel to the ground. Let your torso also tilt back with this movement but make sure to keep your spine slightly rounded to engage the core muscles.
- Stay in this pose for a few seconds to ascertain your balance and stability.
- Straighten one knee at a time , if your body permits. Keep the torso tilting back with the flow so that your body forms a V shape.
- Permit your shoulder blades to protract, this would strengthen the chest muscles.
- Leave the knees and straighten your arms to the front such that they are parallel to the ground, to increase the response from the core muscles you can gently widen the above in-between the arms
- Try and balance your body on your sit bones . A boat is meant to move therefore there would be a natura shift of weight from the back to the from of the sit bones . Not not force the body to stay only on area of the sit bones .
- Hold this pose for 3-5 breaths and then slowly bring down your legs while exhaling.
To challenge yourself, try coming into the pose from a lying-down position. When you exhale, stretch your arms down to your feet and lift your torso and feet off the ground.
- Initially, you can perform the pose only till the point you bring your shins parallel to the ground. This pose is also known as Ardha Navasana and is often the starting point for beginners. You should only proceed with the full straightening of the legs once you feel you have achieved the desired level of stability and balance.
- If you’re uncomfortable about not having any support for your legs, you can keep your hands at the back of your knees or your thighs throughout the pose. Start by taking off one arm at a time to get to the final pose.
- To make the motion of pulling in and up of your abdominal muscles, imagine yourself zipping your tight jeans and closing their buttons.
- You can use a strap to hold your legs straight and maintain balance. Loop the strap around the balls of your feet and hold the ends with your hands.
- Placing a yoga block between your thighs will keep your thighs thoroughly engaged.
- Allow the back body to round a little.
Precautions and contraindications
- Do not perform this pose if you have recently suffered an injury or undergone surgery on the spine.
- People suffering from heart-related ailments, asthma, migraine, blood pressure, or vertigo should also avoid this pose or proceed with extreme caution.
- Ladies who are pregnant or menstruating should avoid this pose for the time being.
- If you have suffered an injury in your thighs, back, arms, neck, hips, or abdomen, make sure you are significantly recovered to perform this pose.
Benefits of Navasana
Though the navasana may look difficult to perform, its benefits supersede its practice. Regular practice of this pose can aid in improving the flexibility of the lower body. It greatly enhances the strength of your legs, back, hips, and arms. Moreover, your posture gets improves while your core also gets a good workout.
Below are some benefits of performing the pose:
- Relieve tension and stiffness in hamstrings
- Strengthens and tones the abdominal muscles
- Strengthens core, pelvic floor, glutes, and hip flexors
- Improves flexibility in the lower body
- Improves digestion and metabolism
- Stretches the spine and alleviates back pain
- Opens the chest giving room for the lungs to expand
- Improves posture and balance
- Can aid in burning excess fat
- Promotes better circulation throughout the body
- Enhances focus and concentration power