Navasana or Boat Pose

Benefits, Contraindications, Tips and How to Do

English Name(s)
Boat pose
नावासन / Nāvāsana
nava: “boat”
āsana: “posture”

Navasana at a Glance

Navasana also called the boat pose, comes from the Sanskrit word ‘nava’. This asana has been practiced for centuries and is a seated pose, which is about balancing the whole body on the sit bones. In Navasana, we need to balance the upper and lower body, and sane way in our life we need to balance the work and personal life for a healthy lifestyle.


  • It is an amazing pose to build and strengthen muscular effort to the front of the hips, thighs, and abdominal muscles.
  • It helps to keep you away from distractions and helps to focus your mind and body in the present.
  • It helps to stimulate the digestive system, which keeps the digestive organs.
  • It helps to boost up the energy in the body and can be included in flow yoga sequences.
  • It helps to strengthen your back, arm, and leg muscles.

Who can do it?

People who are looking to strengthen their back and core can do this asana. People with kidney or thyroid issues can do this asana, only after consulting their health care professional. People who want to improve their digestion and who have prostate gland issues can do this pose. Individuals looking for physical and mental balance can practice and also improve their focus and concentration.

Who should not do it?

People who have or have injuries in their neck, shoulder, back, or legs should avoid doing it. Individuals with severe stress and anxiety should avoid doing it. People who have undergone any surgery should avoid it. Elderly people should avoid doing this and do the simplest variations. People with very low blood pressure should avoid it. Pregnant women and ladies during their menstrual cycle should avoid doing it.

How to Do the Navasana?

Follow the Step-by-Step Instructions

Challenging poses like Navasana help to focus your mind in the present and keep you away from distractions, which should be included in your daily exercise routine and reap the benefits.

  1. Do some warmup and preparatory poses before you do the Navasana pose.
  2. Start by sitting on the yoga mat or any soft surface, keep your legs and spine straight, and breathe deeply and evenly.
  3. Keep your hands on the floor, behind the hips, and your finger pointing forward.
  4. Breathe deeply and get your abdominal muscles engaged. Pull your navel towards your spine. This will help with balance as well as keep your lower back safe.
  5. Keep your chest lifted, engage your back muscles, draw your shoulder blades back- exhale, and start lifting your feet from the ground. You can slightly bend your knees and you will lean back, not much but slightly.
  6. After lifting the legs, bring your shins parallel to the floor and still, your knees will be bent and your body will form a V-shape with your torso and thighs (this is also a modified version for the beginner), and you can hold here if you feel this is the limit you can handle.
  7. If you are ready to further challenge, you can bring your legs straight and keep your spine straight and your arms straight in front, and the body would form a V-shape from the head to the toes and the balance of your body would be on the sit bones.
  8. Now, this is the pose, and keep the feet together, toes pointed and your arms should be parallel to the ground. You can point your fingers towards the feet.
  9. Here, engage your core muscles, hip flexors, and thighs to maintain balance.
  10. Gaze at the front at a steady point to maintain balance and focus.
  11. Keep steady breathing until you can hold the pose as long as you can, without hurting yourself, and gradually increase with practice.
  12. Then you can release, exhale, and lower your feet, bring your back straight and arms down and by the side, and relax in the resting yoga poses like Balasana, Shavasana, and Viparita Karni.
  13. It can be a challenging pose for beginners, so it best respects your body. Use props if needed and do it under the guidance of the yoga teacher.
  14. For Any health concerns, consult your healthcare professional before attempting this pose.

What are the Benefits of the Navasana?

  • The Navasana pose helps to stretch the entire body from the neck to your feet. It opens up your limbs and joints and can reduce your pain and stiffness.
  • This is a good pose for athletes as it helps stretch and strengthen your hamstrings, quadriceps muscles, and hips and improves their endurance and performance.
  • This asana helps to massage your abdominal organs and activates your digestive system, which helps to keep your constipation and bloating away and helps in proper digestion.
  • Practicing this asana regularly can help remove the extra fat near your waist, hips, and thighs.
  • This can help improve your lower back pain and posture.
  • The Navasana stretches your entire body and helps relieve the stress and tension accumulated in various parts of the body, calming your nervous system.
  • The Navasana pose helps you to be in the present moment, improves your focus and concentration, eliminates toxic thoughts, and improves your self-awareness.

Health Conditions that Might Benefit from Navasana

  • Navasana can help strengthen the hip flexors, thigh, and abdominal muscles. This helps to support your lower back, which improves your body posture.
  • People with mild digestive issues can practice the Navasana pose, which helps with a better digestion process and relieves constipation.
  • Practicing this pose keeps the body balanced and stable and helps improve self-confidence and willpower.
  • Boat Pose is a challenging pose that needs balance and coordination, which can be helpful for individuals looking to improve these aspects of their physical fitness.
  • As with other challenging yoga poses, Navasana can also help reduce stress and anxiety by deep breathing and being mindful, promoting relaxation.
  • Practicing this pose can help stimulate the kidneys, thyroid, prostate glands, and intestines.
  • Navasana yoga pose can help to improve your lung functions and help prevent conditions like asthma and COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

Safety and Precautions

  • Keep a check that you don’t round your back; keep your back straight throughout the pose to keep the focus on your hip, thigh, and core muscles.
  • Don’t try to rush for the pose; do the Navasana mindfully, slowly, and gently. Incorrect alignment may give you some discomfort or pain.
  • If you have a recent injury in your lower back, hips, thighs, or abdomen, avoid doing this asana, as this may have more negative effects or injuries to your body.  
  • People with high or low blood pressure should avoid doing the Navasana boat pose.
  • Individuals with severe headaches or migraine pains should avoid doing this pose unless it subsides.
  • The first variation with bent knees will allow you to practice the pose without sagging in the spine.
  • Pregnant women should avoid doing this asana, and women during their menstrual cycle also should avoid doing it.

Common Mistakes

  • This being a challenging asana, initially is possible to make mistakes, so just note the mistakes that might happen.
  • Hunching your back can put pressure on the lumbar spine and may cause discomfort or injury.
  • Warmup for the Navasana is mandatory.
  • Avoid rounding the shoulders; your chest should be lifted and your shoulders drawn back.
  • Don’t look down while holding the position; look in the front.
  • Don’t lift your legs too high. This may create stress in your lower back.
  • In the initial stages, you can bend your leg slightly, but after some time, work gradually to keep the legs straight.
  • Avoid pointing your toes inward.      
  • Avoid forcing your body too much. Progress gradually.
  • After the asana, go for the resting pose, whichever suits you.
  • Initially do this asana under the supervision of the yoga teacher.

Tips for the Navasana

  • Engaging the core will stabilize the pose and protect the lower back.
  • You should be aware of the alignment procedures to do this pose.
  • If you are new to this pose, bend your knees slightly or support yourself by keeping your arms behind your hip.
  • Keep a check to balance over your sit bones, and not too forward or back.
  • While you gaze in this pose, just keep a point before you to balance and concentrate better.
  • Your breath should be continuous and steady throughout the pose.
  • Extend the holding duration gradually and not at the first go; be patient and practice consistently.
  • If it is difficult to maintain the pose, use pros like a yoga block or strap for support and balance.
  • Preparatory poses for Navasana include the standing poses Utkatasana and Uttanasana and the seated pose Dandasana.
  • Cooling period by doing the resting pose like Balasana will relax your body.

The Physical Alignment Principles for Navasana

  • Unlike most forward bends, it requires constant muscular effort to maintain.
  • Start sitting on the floor in the staff pose with your spine straight, legs straight forward, and hands behind your hips.
  • Keeping your spine straight, engage your core, and pull your navel toward your spine.
  • Bend your knees and your feet flat on the floor if you are a beginner, and if you can do the challenging version, then start with it.
  • Lift your leg while bent and then make it straight. Keep your right foot and left foot together. Your toes should be pointing outward.
  • Extend your legs and lift your legs to about 45 degrees from the floor or as per your physical limit and engage your core, hip, and thigh muscles.
  • raise the legs higher, tighten the inner legs to engage the adductors, raise the arms forward from the thighs, and bring them parallel to the floor. You can keep your hands behind the knees instead of bringing your arms parallel.
  • Try to keep your lower belly flat and firm but not hard and thick.
  • Your feet should be stretched, arms straight pointing to your feet.
  • Your body should form a V shape, and your back straight straighten your legs.
  • Your head should be in line with your neck and spine.
  • keep your chest open and bring your shoulders back.
  • Balance your body on the sit bones. Avoid leaning too back or too forward.
  • Hold the pose for 4 to five breaths or as per your limit.
  • Beginners can use props like yoga blocks or straps.
  • After you release the pose, do the cooling pose to relax the nervous system.

Navasana and Breath

In Navasana (Boat Pose), coordinating your breath with movement is important for stability and mindfulness. When you lift your legs and torso from the ground, breathe deeply and engage your core, hips, and thighs to maintain balance. Keep your breath steady and exhale gradually and evenly through your nose while holding the pose, focusing on maintaining core engagement and a stable position. Your breath should be even and continuous, which will support you physically, promote mental concentration, and help you relax.

Navasana and Variations

  • There are many variations of Boat pose that accommodate different degrees of existing core strength.
  • For support, you can use your hands to catch hold of your shin while performing the pose.
  • Use props like a yoga strap in the initial stages. Loop the strap around the soles of your feet and hold it with your hands. 
  • Try placing a block between your thighs to engage the inner thighs.
  • Half-boat pose by keeping your knees bent.
  • Low boat pose – your legs and upper body are closer to the ground, creating a more intense challenge for the core muscles.
  • Holding the big toe after forming the V-shape in the boat pose.

Take Away

The Boat Pose is a great way to strengthen your core muscles, improve digestion and metabolism, and reduce stress and anxiety. It is also known to help regulate the menstrual cycle and stimulate the thyroid gland. It is a great pose to do before bedtime or after a long day at work. If you are new to yoga, start with one repetition and gradually work up to three repetitions as you build strength in your core muscles. Remember to keep your back straight and engage your abdominal muscles.

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Meera Watts
Meera Watts is the owner and founder of Siddhi Yoga International. She is known worldwide for her thought leadership in the wellness industry and was recognized as a Top 20 International Yoga Blogger. Her writing on holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, CureJoy, FunTimesGuide, OMtimes and other international magazines. She got the Top 100 Entrepreneur of Singapore award in 2022. Meera is a yoga teacher and therapist, though now she focuses primarily on leading Siddhi Yoga International, blogging and spending time with her family in Singapore.


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