Upward boat pose is better known as full boat pose because it’s the hardest version of boat pose. In most classes, a half boat pose variation is practiced because people don’t have the flexibility or core strength yet for full boat pose. It takes a lot of strengthening and stretching before this pose is easily held. That’s what makes the pose so appealing; it’s a deep stretch and a strengthening pose.
The pose is done specifically to target the obliques and fire up the tummy muscles, but it ends up being a full body strengthening pose. Upward boat is also a great pose to use when wanting to warm up the core for more serious poses like handstand, headstand, or Pincha Mayurasana. These are all inversions that benefit from the core being engaged.
The basics of upward boat pose
Upward boat pose, which is also known in Sanskrit as Paripurna Navasana, targets many of the muscles in the body. The pose is done specifically to strengthen and tone the core, but it also engages and therefore strengthens, the legs, glutes, arms, and spine.
The more the core is engaged, the more support the spine has. Having a strong core is vital for spine strength. It allows a person to sit and stand upright easily without having to think about it or work very hard. That’s why Upward boat pose is also a spine strengthening pose. When done properly, upward boat pose is extremely challenging and strengthening, which makes it an intermediate to advanced pose.
The benefits of practicing upward boat pose
Holding upward boat pose is not an easy task. When everything is engaged properly in the pose it has the potential to strengthen the legs, core, glutes, and spine. It’s known to be one of the most useful poses to tone the abdominal muscles because of how engaging it is.
The shape made in upward boat pose is almost a perfect V, which means a lot of balancing and grounding needs to happen to stay in the pose. Therefore, this pose also improves stability and full body awareness as almost everything is working in this pose. Holding this pose makes a person feel strong, which improves overall confidence and grounding in that person.
How to practice upward boat pose
Step by step instructions for getting into upward boat pose
- Begin in a seated pose, Dandasana, which is with the legs straight out in front of you and arms hanging next to the sides of the body.
- First, lengthen the spine in this starting pose and remember to keep this length the entire time. Lift out of the lower back and don’t crunch or round.
- Slowly, lean the upper body back slightly whilst maintaining a straight spine.
- Begin to lift the arms up so that they’re in line with the ears. The upper body and arms are all in one long line now.
- Begin to engage the abdominal muscles, the thighs, and the glutes as you slowly lift your legs up. Keep the legs straight the whole time as you lift them.
- Remember to breathe deeply and engage the core the whole time. The neck shouldn’t be crunched, it should be in the same line as your spine. Try looking slightly above or at the feet to keep the neck in one long line. Imagine making a V shape with your body.
- Lengthen the back, engage all the muscles needed and hold for around 5-10 breaths before slowly releasing back into Dandasana, the seated pose with legs straight in front of you.
Common mistakes made when practicing upward boat pose
One of the biggest mistakes made when practicing this pose is crunching in the lower back so that the upper body is closer to the legs. This happens when a person is trying to make a perfect V shape and they lose the integrity of their spine. The shape isn’t as important as engaging all the proper muscles, lengthening the spine, and lifting out of the lower back.
Rounding the spine can cause pain and won’t strengthen the muscles. Keeping the chest area open and remembering to breathe is also something people forget to do. Remembering all of these things will make upward boat pose a lot easier to hold.
For those first trying the pose out for the first time remember to warm up the body first. Upward boat pose does require spinal strength and quite a lot of hamstring flexibility, which means being warmed up will significantly improve the ability to hold the pose. Take the pose in small increments instead of going right into it. Practice the shape of it whilst still seated, or even try it out lying down first. From there, go into the pose for short amounts of time before you feel confident and strong enough for the full pose.
This pose shouldn’t be done by those who have any spinal, shoulder, or neck injury. If someone is experiencing pain in any of these areas, they should also avoid upward boat pose. It should only be done if a doctor or physician has approved that kind of movement and if it feels okay in the body. Always listen to your body because it knows best what does or doesn’t work for it. If it doesn’t feel good, then try a gentler pose.
The most well-known variation of this pose is a boat pose that’s more commonly used. It’s used in most classes, beginner to advanced because it still engages the core but it’s a lot easier to hold for most people. It’s when the legs are bent so that the shins are parallel to the mat and instead of the hands being above the head, they are in prayer at the front of the heart.
A harder version of this pose is half boat pose where the body is almost completely off the ground. The only thing touching the mat is the glutes and some of the upper thighs. The body is very close to the floor, a bit more than an inch off the ground, and the spine is rounded in this version. This engages the core a lot more and makes it more difficult to hold. It’s incredibly toning for the core when holding this version of the pose.References: