NavasanaBoat Pose nah-VAHS-anna
also known as Naukasana, Ardha Navasana or Paripurna Navasana
Naukā (नौका) = A small boat
Ardha (अर्ध) =Half
Paripūrṇa (परिपूर्ण) = Complete
Nava (नावा)= A boat
Asana (आसन) = Pose, Posture, Seat
(Sanskrit Devanagari translations www.wikapedia.org and wisdomlib.org)
Boat pose in its simplest description makes a balancing “V” shape. Paripūrṇanavasana, mostly known as navasana, is a seat balance posture that requires significant strength in the muscles of the back, hip flexors core and thighs. There are many exciting variations of navasana that increase the balance challenge and need additional flexibility. For this set we will focus on the foundational options. Similar postures such as ubhaya padangusthasana (balancing big toe posture) and urdhva mukha paschimottanasana (upward facing intense stretch pose) will be well served by cultivating a steady boat before adding variations with greater leverage and increased hamstring flexibility.
The pose navasana (paripūrṇanavasana) is found in Pattabhi Jois’s ashtanga primary series after the rotational marichyasana set and before the arm balance bhujapidasana. In the ashtanga series the poster is repeated five times in a row with either a seated lift, or a handstand between each boat pose. Each round is held for five deep breaths (approximately 30-60 seconds)
In B.K.S. Iyengar’s “Light on Yoga” he lists two variations back to back starting with paripūrṇanavasana (the full boat) and following with ardha navasana (half or low boat). Navasana in this text is preceded by dandasana the staff pose and followed by gomukhasana (cow face pose). Iyengar also recommends building up to 30 seconds or more of hold. He does note that one doesn’t need to stay very long to feel the effects of the pose and anyone who has attempted it will usually feel the core work almost immediately.
This pose is very simple in shape, but the boat requires concentration and strength not to sink. Simple does not mean easy. Practicing the boat pose variations will improve the core strength which helps support the health of the low back. If you have a sensitive back there are preparatory options that might be a better fit for you to build up to the full boat without straining your back.
How to do Paripūrṇanavasana
How to do Ardha Navasana From Seated
Dandasana- Staff Pose
Utkatasana- Chair Pose
Counter PosesBaddha Konasana- Bound Angle Pose (with a softer back position- let it round a bit)
Any easy twist to release the spine and abdominals.
ReferencesIyengar, B.K.S. (1966) Light on Yoga, Yoga Dipiki. (3rd Edition) NY, United States of America. Schocken Books Inc
Swenson, D. (1999) Ashtanga Yoga, the Practice Manual. (6th Edition) (Woodruff, C, Ed.). Houston, TX, United States of America. Ashtanga Yoga Productions.
About Chris Loebsack
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