Asana From Every Angle: Boat Pose

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A strong core is the key to most yoga poses, and this pose is a phenomenal core strengthener. I think of boat pose as a staple yoga pose. It could go just about anywhere in a yoga class. In the beginning of a class, it’s a great way to remind students to engage their core throughout the class. At the end, it is a great transition from vertical to horizontal.

The basics:

From a seated position, rock slightly back to balance on the tailbone and bum. Start by bending your knees, with your calves parallel to the floor. If you have the flexibility and core strength, slowly strengthen the legs. Now, extend the arms to be parallel to your legs. If you’re working on balance, keep the knees bent and the arms straight out in front of you.

The yoga instructor:

Boat pose is not only a great core strengthener, it also helps a teacher asses the class on their asana level. In general, boat pose takes on s similar shape to many arm balances and uses the core in the same way. If used at the beginning of the class, it can help a teacher make the decision to or not to include more challenging postures in their sequence.

Boat pose can also have many modifications. From mimicking the exact shape of crow (or another arm balance), to using boat to transition to savasana by slowly lowering to the ground. Slowly lowering is one I like to include in a mid level class, as it works the core and when students hit the floor, they are certainly ready for savasana!

The orthopedic surgeon:

This pose would be challenging for a someone with arthritic pain in their hips or low back. It requires a good amount of flexibility in those two areas and would prove to be difficult. However, bending the knees may help.

It’s a great hip flexor and core strengthener and would be gentler on the hips and low back than doing a sit-up. For someone who has arthritis in those two areas, this would be a good alternative to sit-ups. It may hurt, but it would most likely not make anything worse, whereas a sit-up could. It would also be great for improving balance. Overall, I see no negatives in doing this pose.

The Physical Therapist:

Such a great core exercise! It incorporates the upper abdominals as well as the deep hip flexors. It could be combined with side-to-side movements to incorporate the transverse abdominal muscles and the obliques. Also, lowering and raising the legs would work the deep hip flexors and rectus abdominis.

It also would help lengthen the hamstrings. But, those with tight hamstrings may have trouble with this and round their back. A modification, like bending the knees, would be needed. I would definitely use this for almost any PT patient, but especially for those with low back pain or runners with pelvic instability.

The Takeaway:

Good for:
Core strengthening
Hip flexor strengthening
Balance

Bad for:
Nothing!

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Lauren Black

Lauren Black is a 200 RYT yoga instructor in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She teaches a form focused vinyasa/hatha practice. For the last five years since she went through her teacher training, she has tried to learn more about yoga from professionals in other paths. She also works as a copywriter for an advertising agency. http://laurenbyoga.tumblr.com | https://www.facebook.com/laurennp1 | Instagram@LaurenPBlack

Classes by Lauren Black