Full Boat Pose

The yoga pose Paripurna Navasana, commonly referred to as Full Boat Pose in English, comes from the Sanskrit words paripurna meaning full or entire, nava meaning boat, and asana meaning posture. The Full Boat Pose is a popular pose used to engage the core muscles by strengthening the abdominals and muscles of the pelvis and lower back. While the Full Boat Pose is a difficult yoga pose to perform for many, the benefits of the pose are long lasting.

Paripurna Navasana looks like a simple pose, but can be quite challenging. It involves a healthy dose of balance and core and legs strength. Putting it all together might take some getting used to, but once you get it, you won’t be able to stop doing it! Be sure to keep your abdomen tucked and back straight. Having your shoulder relaxed and neck loose will also help to avoid tension around that area. Feet should be pointed yet flexed. This is a great way to slowly tone the core and strengthen the deep hip flexors and thighs.

Benefits of Full Boat Pose

Paripurna Navasana strengthens and stretches core muscles (abdominals, hip flexors and lower back), improves balance, aligns and stretches spine. Stimulates the thyroid, intestines, kidneys, and prostate gland.

How to Do Full Boat Pose (Paripurna Navasana)

When performing the Full Boat Pose, it is important to shift your body backward and rest comfortably on your tailbone. This will allow for correct balance and reduce any unnecessary stress on the lower back.

  1. Sit on the floor with straight legs in front of you. Inhale and bend your knees so your feet are flat on the floor. Place your hands on the side of your thighs just below your hips, keeping your fingers pointed toward your toes.
  2. Exhale and slowly lean back at your hips lifting your legs, with bent knees, a few inches off the floor. Make sure your back is straight as you draw your shoulder blades together to lift and open your chest.
  3. Slowly straighten out your legs. If you cannot straighten your legs, go as far as your can or follow the modified pose in the section below.
  4. Your thighs should be angled about 45 degrees from the floor as should your torso. From the side your body should look like a "V" with your arms still touching your thighs.
  5. Begin to slowly move your arms alongside your legs with palms facing down until they are parallel to the floor.
  6. Hold the pose for 10-20 seconds to begin, gradually increasing the time you hold the pose to one minute. Release the pose by dropping the legs and returning to the sitting position.

Full Boat Pose for Beginners

When beginning the Full Boat Pose, you may find it difficult to straighten your legs. One modification of the pose is to start in a sitting position with your feet flat along the floor. Loop a stretching strap under the soles of your feet and grip the ends with your hands. On an inhale, lean back slightly at the hips while keeping the legs flat against the floor. On your next exhale, lift and straighten your legs, keeping the strap taut in your hands to help keep your balance and aid with stretching.

Another variation for beginners without a stretching strap is to use your arms for balance while in the Full Boat Pose. Do this by starting with your legs flat against the floor, placing your hands about one foot behind your body. Exhale and lift your legs while leaning back at the hips. This modified pose provides many of the stretching and strength benefits of the normal Full Boat Pose but makes the pose easier for beginners.

Full Boat Pose for Advanced

The Full Boat Pose is an advanced pose that can be difficult to perform if never done before. However, advanced practitioners can alternate between the Full Boat Pose and the Half Boat Pose to increase the strength and stretching benefits. To perform this modification, first enter the Full Boat Pose and hold it for 15 to 30 seconds. On an exhale, clasp your hands behind your head and lean your body back while slightly lowering your legs. Keep your elbows out wide from your body and continue to look at your toes as you are in this position. After 10 to 20 seconds, or longer if desired, return to the Full Boat Pose for an additional 15 to 30 seconds.

Set Sail for Strength

Full Boat is often presented as an abdominal strengthener, which it is to a certain extent. But more importantly this pose strengthens the deep hip flexors that attach the inner thigh bones to the front of the spine. Learn to anchor the heads of the thighs bones deep in the pelvis and lift from that anchor through the front spine. Remember that the lower front belly should never get hard.