Boat Pose! A strength builder for the core, hip flexors and spine. Detailed how-to instructions in a minute, but first— three reasons why you should be doing Boat Pose.
For starters, it hits all of the core muscles that you'll be showing off on
a boat in your bikini this summer. Trust me, this pose works great for that. But we're not totally
superficial around here...Boat Pose builds strength, stability and stamina in the core. In order to support your spine, it demands the entire core to chip in and work. Deep core muscles, as well as back muscles are called into action. Plus, the hip flexors are working overtime to bring your legs up and into the pose. You’ll feel all three areas right away if you’re doing the pose correctly.
Next, Boat Pose improves digestion, stimulates the intestines, kidneys and thyroid (which helps with metabolism).
Lastly, it improves concentration and stamina. If you try to lengthen the hold on Boat Pose, you’ll soon see why. In order to stay in the pose, you have to be super focused and mentally tough. Mind over matter, right?
Cautions or Reasons to Avoid Boat:
Neck Injury or Lower Back Pain
Where You’re Going to Feel the Work:
Deep core muscles, obliques, hip flexors (both right where your legs meet your pelvis and your front thigh muscles), and back muscles.
How To Ease Into Boat, Modifications and Progressions Along the Way:
• Begin on the mat, seated tall, with good posture and on the sitting bones. Place the feet flat on the floor and bend the knees. Gently rest the hands behind your pelvis, with the fingers pointing to your hips and recline just a little bit. Intentionally activate the core, lengthen the spine, open the chest, and draw shoulder blades together and down the back. Already you’re working and engaging so many muscles. (Feel free to stick with this version as long as needed to build the strength and proper alignment needed to go further. Practice by holding the pose and breathing deeply.)
• With the core engaged, and the spine aligned, lift one foot off the floor. You can practice here for a while by lifting one leg at a time and alternating back and forth until you feel comfortable going any further. Ideally, you would lift until your shins are parallel to the floor, but realistically-- just lift them as much as you can. If parallel isn’t happening for you yet, just keep working at it, and it will eventually.NOTE: The entire time, you’ll need to be aware of your spinal alignment. Avoid any rounding in the low back, as that can put pressure on discs, nerves, and stuff we don’t want to happen. If you’re scratching your head on how to stay on your sitting bones and, at the same time, not round the lower back, here’s the remedy: Find your foundation on the back of the sitting bones, never rounding to rest your body weight on your tailbone (ouch!).
• Next progression: lift both legs! Again, paying attention to your spine and not letting it round.
• When you’re confident with your spinal alignment and core stability, explore the option of placing the hands gently at the hamstrings OR reaching them out in front of you, parallel to the floor.
•Next: When you really have the hang of lifting both feet, start to lengthen your legs. Work on that for a while, and depending on how long your hamstrings are, you may be able to achieve straight legs, and you may not. Just do what you can. Remember, this pose may not be "comfortable," but it should not hurt.
Another NOTE: It’s always more important to keep proper alignment than it is to jump into a progression of a pose. In this case, I’m talking about your spine and keeping it healthy. Make a priority of maintaining neutral spinal alignment over progressing too fast.
•Don’t forget to breathe deeply. •Mastered This Pose? Make it harder: squeeze a yoga block with your inner thighs.
•Want even more? Add some moving twists to this to strengthen your obliques.
Boat pose is a hard one! Keep practicing and over time you'll make some progress. Remember, practice makes progress.
Love & Light.