boat pose Try These 7 Fun Navasana (Boat Pose) Variations

Try These 7 Fun Navasana (Boat Pose) Variations

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Tonya Wetzel

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Boat Pose (Navasana) strengthens both the front and back body and core, works the hip flexors, and provides a nice test of your balance and stability.

Boat Pose provides a range of benefits, so it’s good to incorporate as a regular part of your yoga practice.

But let’s be real – Navasana is typically not a fan favorite. It’s not a pose that students request very often, and certainly not one that brings a feeling of bliss while in the middle of it.

Let’s change that! With these fun, creative, and challenging Boat Pose variations, you can bring a fresh spin to a classic pose, test your strength and mobility, and maybe even find a new appreciation for this strengthening yoga pose.

Here’s How to Practice a Traditional Navasana:

Before moving onto variations, make sure you have a solid grasp on a traditional Boat Pose first.

Let’s try it:

  • From a seated position bend your knees and put the tips of your toes on the ground
  • Bring your hands to rest on the outside of your thighs
  • Lean back slightly, finding your balance on your sit bones
  • Inhale as you lengthen your spine and lift your chest by broadening across your collar bones
  • Pull your belly button in and up to engage your core and stabilize your lower back
  • Engage your pelvic floor by activating Mula Bandha
  • On your exhale, lift your feet and bring your shins parallel to the ground, finding a modified Boat Pose
  • Squeeze your inner legs together
  • Keep your breath slow and full
  • Activate your feet by pointing or “flointing” (pointing your feet and flexing your toes)
  • Gaze at one spot ahead of you or at your feet
  • Extend your legs out straight to find traditional Boat Pose, use your core to help with this (not just the strength of your hip flexors and legs)
  • Play around with your hand placement: plant your hands behind you or grab your thighs for a bit of extra support; extend your arms parallel to the ground; or lift your arms up overhead for an extra challenge

 

Now You’re Ready to Try These 7 Fun Boat Pose Variations:

Once you’ve mastered Boat Pose, play around with these fun Navasana variations for an extra challenge.

1. Boat on a Yoga Block

boat on block

Add an extra balance challenge by sitting on a yoga block. It’s harder than it looks!

Let’s try it:

  • Place a yoga block on the floor on its shortest height
  • Perch on the block, making sure both of your sit bones are resting on the block. You can use two blocks next to each other for a bit more support
  • Balance is much harder on a block, so you may want to stick with a modified Boat Pose for the first few times you try

2. Revolved Boat Pose (Parivrtta Navasana)

revolved boat

Add a twist to your Boat Pose to increase the difficulty and work your obliques. This is a great pose to use in a sequence preparing for a twisting arm balance such as Side Crow (Parsva Bakasana) or Grasshopper Pose (Parsva Bhuja Dandasana).

Need a refresher on Side Crow? Follow this Side Crow Step-by-Step Photo Tutorial: Prepare to Fly!

Let’s try it:

    • From traditional Boat Pose, loop your right big toe with your left peace fingers
    • On your exhale, twist to the right, extending your right arm to open across your chest
    • Bring your gaze toward your outstretched right hand
    • Add an extra challenge by crossing your ankles. Loop the big toe of your bottom foot with your index finger when trying this version

3. Low Boat Pose (Ardha Navasana)

low boat
Occasionally called Canoe, this pose is deceptively challenging and seems to find core muscles you didn’t know you had.

Let’s try it:

        • Start in traditional Boat Pose
        • Slowly lower your mid-back and legs toward the floor until they are hovering about six to eight inches off the ground
        • Keep your legs firm and together
        • Hover your arms by your hips with your palms facing up or sweep them long overhead
        • Keep your core muscles drawing in toward your spine
        • Transition between traditional Boat (Navasana) and Low Boat (Ardha Navasana) several times to really work your core
        • If you feel any strain in your neck, you can bring your hands behind your head to gently cradle your neck

4. Both Big Toe Pose (Ubhaya Padangusthasana)

both big toe pose

This version of Boat Pose combines core and balance work with a deep hamstring stretch.

Let’s try it:

  • Start in Butterfly Pose (Baddha Konasana)
  • Loop both big toes with your peace fingers and thumbs
  • Shift your weight into your sit bones as you lift your knees up toward the ceiling
  • Lift your feet off the floor and find your balance
  • Slowly stretch your legs out in front of you
  • Keep your spine long and straight while broadening through your front body to prevent rounding in your back
  • Lengthen your legs from your pelvis through your heels and flex your feet
  • Gaze slightly upward toward your toes

5. Wide-Legged Boat Pose (Merudandasana)

wide leg boat

This option is similar to Both Big Toe Pose, but it can be a bit more challenging on your balance. If you start to fall backward, stay relaxed and roll with it.

Let’s try it:

  • Start in Butterfly Pose
  • Loop both big toes with your peace fingers or grab the outside of your feet
  • Shift your weight into your sit bones as you lift your knees up toward the ceiling
  • Extend one leg at a time out wide to the side of your mat
  • Once you’re stable with extending one leg at a time, try extending both simultaneously
  • Gaze forward or up toward the ceiling for an extra balance challenge

 

6. Boat Pose With a Yoga Strap

boat with strap

Try this variation for a supported Navasana. The yoga strap and block combination helps you to find lift through your spine and chest. It’s also a great tool to use when working toward L-Sit (Brahmacharyasana).

Let’s try it:

  • Start in Staff Pose (Dandasana)
  • Make a large loop with your yoga strap
  • Bring the strap around your upper body, placing it under your armpits and around your shoulder blades
  • Bend your legs, bringing your knees close to your chest
  • Place a yoga block width-wise at the base of your feet and loop the other end of your strap around the block
  • Press your feet firmly into the block as you extend your legs out and up
  • Use your hands as needed and find your balance
  • Extend your arms parallel to the ground or overhead when you’re ready
  • Push out through your feet toward the block as you lift up and back with your upper body

Love to play with yoga props? Here’s How to Use Blocks in 10 Common Poses (With Modifications to Ease or Deepen Each Posture)

7. Half-Bound Lotus Boat Pose (Ardha Baddha Padma Navasana)

half bound lotus

This beautiful variation is based on a standing forward fold, Half-Bound Lotus Pose from the Ashtanga Primary Series.

Ashtanga Yoga – Here’s Everything You Need to Know About This Powerful Yoga Discipline

It may cause strain on the knee due to the foot placement, so you might want to skip this variation if you have any knee issues. Make sure your body is warm and stretched before trying this pose.

Let’s try it:

  • Start in Staff Pose (Dandasana)
  • Bend your right leg and guide your right foot to the crease of your left hip
  • Extend your right arm to the front, and turn your palm away from you so your thumb is facing down
  • Sweep your right arm around your back and grasp your right big toe or foot with your right hand
  • Bend your left leg, placing your foot on the ground as you find balance on your sit bones
  • Lasso your left big toe with fingers from your left hand
  • Extend your left leg in front of your chest
  • Gaze toward your extended left leg

 

Have Fun Playing With These Navasana (Boat Pose) Variations!

Next time you’re feeling bored with your core work or your traditional yoga postures, try one of these Boat Pose variations. Your core will very likely thank you!

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