You might know the pose Naukasana by its English name of "Boat." It's also commonly called Navasana in Sanskrit. The variation in names is simply a difference in translation from an ancient language.
In Sanskrit, Nauka means boat and Asana means pose. The shape of the posture looks somewhat like a boat, so the name is quite appropriate. Benefits include building physical core strength, stimulating your Manipura chakra and massaging internal organs.
To do Naukasana, sit on your buttocks, bend your knees and plant your feet. Reach your arms forward past your thighs and lean back, engaging your abdominals as you do so. Inhale and lift your feet off the floor to balance on the backs of your sit bones. If this feels doable, straighten your legs to a 45-degree angle.
Remember to keep from sagging in the back and slumping through the shoulders. It's important to keep your back long, shoulder blades pulled together and your belly firm throughout, or else the benefits of the pose are lost.
Hold Naukasana for five to 10 breaths. Exhale to release.
If your form breaks down in the full variation, modify the pose. Options include:
- Leaning back and lifting your legs off the floor, but keep your knees bent so your shins are parallel to the floor.
- Placing your hands behind your back onto the floor to support a straight spine.
- Holding the backs of your thighs to help your balance in the V-sit shape.
Core Strength Builder
When you go into Naukasana, you can't help but notice how it builds strength in your core, the area from your hips to your shoulders. You build abdominal strength, in both the deep stabilizing muscles and the superficial flexing and twisting muscles.
In addition to your abs, Naukasana builds up the hip flexors, which attach your legs to your spine. These muscles must bear the weight of your legs in a lifted position. Your spinal muscles, including the erector spinae that run along the spinal column, also benefit from Boat pose.
Manipura chakra is one of the seven major energy zones that run along the spine. This third chakra exists at the point of the solar plexus, in the area between the belly button and the bottommost ribs.
Manipura chakra is said to govern your self-esteem. Stimulating it helps bolster your self-assurance and confidence. When this chakra is out of sorts, digestion may be affected. Therefore, practicing Naukasana may build up your digestive health and your ability to make decisions.
Massaging the internal organs may be a bit of a misstatement; you can't actually knead or pinch them like you do muscles. But, you can compress them to cut off blood flow. Once the constriction is released, fresh blood flows to the area to re-energize them. The Boat pose is particularly beneficial to the kidneys and intestines. It's also believed that Naukasana energizes the thyroid and prostate glands, important players in your endocrine system that regulates hormones to keep you healthy.