The One Yoga Pose You Should Do Daily To Strengthen Your Core
Any athlete knows a strong core is the foundation of so many exercises and movements. But if you're limiting ab day to crunches and planks, you might be itching to switch it up.
Boat pose, or navasana, is one of those yoga asanas that can be a bit challenging if you're just starting to strengthen your abdomen. But in time, it will no doubt have you feeling the effects.
Here's how to do boat pose and why it's so effective, demonstrated by certified yoga instructor and mbg staffer Amanda Quadrini.
How to do boat pose, Navasana:
- Begin seated with your legs out in front of you, bent so the soles of your feet touch the ground.
- Bring your arms behind you, placing your hands in line with your shoulders, fingers pointing toward the front of the mat.
- Engage your core and begin to lean back, lifting your feet off the floor, balancing on your sitz bones.
- With active legs, bring your thighs to a rough 45-degree angle and shins parallel to the floor.
- Squeeze your legs together and shine your chest upward, keeping your spine straight.
- Bring your arms to the sides of your shins, parallel to the floor.
- If you're stable here, begin extending the legs until you're shaped like a V.
- Breathe and hold for 30 seconds. Release on an exhale.
- Repeat three times or incorporate it into a flow.
Some tips to remember.
If the full extension of the pose is too much on your lower back, you can absolutely remain with shins parallel to the floor, and/or with hands on the ground.
Always aim to send your energy upward, with a straight spine and active legs, so as to avoid pressure on your low back and sacrum. If you need assistance straightening your legs, use a yoga strap around your feet, and hold the other end in your hands. Just be sure not to round your spine if you do opt for a strap.
Keep your shoulder blades down and back, face and jaw relaxed, and remember to breathe.
What are the benefits?
Not only is it beneficial to have a strong core in a yoga practice or other physical activity, but this pose also strengthens the hip flexors and spinal vertebrae, as well as the muscles in the thighs and lower back. If you struggle with low back pain, having a strong core can actually help mitigate some of that pain.
And if you're interested in chakras, this pose is particularly beneficial for the solar plexus chakra, or manipura, which lies in the pit of the stomach and governs things like self-worth, willpower, emotion, and even digestion.
In fact, having a strong core has indeed been linked with better digestion1, along with improved stability2 and endurance3, in research.
So if you were looking for another pose to incorporate in your core flow, or you want to tune up your solar plexus chakra, boat pose is a great one to consider. Having a strong core is about so much more than getting a six-pack, and by practicing this pose consistently, you can receive all the benefits.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.