Today, our life has taken a fast pace. We are constantly under tremendous pressure to fulfil our never-ending responsibilities and meet deadlines. This has made us neglect our precious health. Investing your hard-earned money in fancy equipment and gym memberships may not be the wisest decision, but that shouldn’t keep you from giving your body the care and love it deserves!
Yoga is believed to be originated way earlier than the dawn of civilization. As per the yogic culture, Lord Shiva has been seen practising Yogasana. Hence, he has been called the ‘Adiyogi.’ In addition, it has been scientifically recognized, as the regular practise of asanas brings overall well-being.
One such asana is Naukasana! This blog explains the procedure of Naukasana, its benefits and much more.
What is Naukasana?
Naukasana or Navasana is a Sanskrit name in which ‘Nauka’ or ‘Nav’ means a boat, whereas ‘asana’ means pose or posture. Therefore, it is called the Boat pose because the final posture of the body resembles a boat or yacht.1-3
Naukasana benefits your lower back and abdominal muscles. While performing boat pose yoga, your abdominal muscles are expanded and contracted, building core strength and boosting energy in the whole body.2,3
There are different variations in performing Naukasana. We recommend you do the simpler boat pose and after mastering the basics, go for other variations. Here are a few variations that you may try:
Naukasana in the supine position– Naukasana in a supine pose is performed by facing upwards and lying on the back. You may follow the Dandasana (seated staff pose) as a preparatory pose for the supine position.2 Supine pose Naukasana has two types-
- Paripurna Naukasana or full-boat pose: Here your body is balanced on the tripod of the seated bone and tailbone. Your legs and thighs are maintained at a 45-degree angle above the floor with the knees are straight in the air. Your head is straight up and your hands should be grabbing your toes.3 (Image 1)
- Ardha Naukasana or half-boat pose: It is similar to the full-boat pose; however, the only difference is that the knees are bent and lower legs are parallel to the ground. Your hands are stretched forward and your head is kept straight.3 (Image 2)
Naukasana in the prone position– Naukasana in a prone pose is performed by facing downwards and lying flat on the stomach. Here, your body is resting on the floor and your arms, chest and legs are stretched straight upward. You may follow the Dhanurasana (bow pose) as a preparatory pose for the prone position.2 (Image 3)
How to do it?
Naukasana is an intermediate level asana. In this, the person can balance their breath and body movement professionally.3
The following steps of Naukasana will guide you to practise both supine and prone variations.
Supine position: Start by lying on the floor facing upward; your knees and legs are straight on
the floor. Keep your hands behind the knees.
- Exhale and while breathing, slowly lift your legs from the floor. Then, move your thighs to a 45-degree angle while keeping them straight because the pressure is lost as soon as the legs are bent.
- Slowly elevate your chest, shoulders and back from the floor. Now, balance your entire body on your buttocks area (tripod of the seated bone and tailbone).
- Now, gradually straighten your legs. Next, try to push your toes tips above your eyes. This makes the full boat pose.
- If you find it hard to maintain the full boat pose, keep your knees bent and your shins parallel to the ground. This makes a half-boat pose.
- For the shoulders, pull them back and stretch both your hands to grab your toes. If difficult, hold your ankles or knees to complete the pose.
- Keep your spine long and straight and maintain a toned lower stomach.
- With normal breathing, hold the position for 10-20 seconds for one round, then gradually go for one minute. Repeat this cycle three times.
- Returning to the initial position while exhaling, release your toes and bring your lower body down. Slowly lower the legs and get your back into the supine pose.2-4
Prone position: Start by lying flat on the stomach, facing downward with your forehead on the floor.
- Bring your arms in front of the head, closer to the ear and rest them on the floor with palms joined together.
- Exhale and while inhaling, raise your arms, forehead and chest from the ground and simultaneously lift your legs from the waist, keeping them straight. Your entire weight should be on the stomach.
- Slowly lower your shoulder, forehead, arms and legs to return to your original position. Return hands to sides and chin on the ground in the prone position.2
Do You Know?
Here is an interesting fact about Naukasana yoga that might amuse you:
- Dr V. Gunasekaran from Tamil Nadu, on September 21 2019, performed Naukasana for two minutes and four seconds and became the only male to make a world record for the longest time holding Naukasana pose on a table.5
Benefits of Naukasana:
Naukasana yoga is a stretching asana that allows your body to release stress. Some of the potential benefits of the Naukasana are described below:
1. Benefits of Naukasana for Nervous System
Naukasana yoga may help bring positivity and balance to the nervous system and reduce nervous tension. It may remove fatigue and laziness from the body and bring freshness and vitality to the body. It also helps improve your ability to concentrate on your daily tasks.1-4
2. Benefits of Naukasana for Core Strength
If you find your stomach sticking out more than your chest, it may be a sign that you have low core muscle strength. However, regular practise of boat asana might help build core strength and also might help alleviate body fatigue. It may expand your chest by stimulating your abdominal muscles while developing the hip flexors. It may strengthen your hips and boost general endurance.3
3. Benefits of Naukasana for Digestion
If you feel uneasy because of improper digestion, you must try Naukasana yoga. The regular practice of the boat yoga pose may strengthen your digestion by boosting metabolism and stimulating digestion. In this asana, your diaphragm is elevated, which circulates the air in the belly, removes gases, eases the pressure on your stomach, and facilitates digestion. It may also help with constipation, acidity and sluggishness of the digestive organs.3
4. Other benefits of Naukasana
- Practising boat pose yoga may tone the legs, thighs, calves and arm muscles, making them more flexible.1,2
- It may also push out the stagnant blood in the legs, increasing its flow in the body.2
- It may help with complications related to hernia and kidney problems.
- The boat pose creates positive pressure on the stomach. It massages the abdominal organs like the intestine, pancreas, liver, kidney, etc., boosting their functioning.2
- Boat posture may also loosen tight hamstrings, thus improving flexibility.3
- It may help to reduce the fat in the abdominal area, making you feel lighter.2
Yoga practice may help develop the mind and body; however, it is not an alternative to modern medicine. Therefore, you should not rely on yoga alone to treat any condition. Instead, consult a qualified doctor who will be able to assess your situation correctly and advise accordingly. Furthermore, it is essential to practice yoga under the supervision of a professional trainer to avoid injuries.
Risks of Exercise
Precautions and contraindications of the Naukasana pose are:
- While performing the boat pose, there is a lot of pressure on the stomach region, so people with recent stomach surgery or stomach ulcers must avoid the boat pose.2
- People with high/low blood pressure, heart diseases and asthma are not recommended to try Naukasana as it may cause severe complications.1,2
- Pregnant women must not perform boat pose as it may lead to unsafe positions causing injuries.1,2
- Women during the first two days of menstruating should avoid boat pose as it may cause cramping.2
People with severe headaches, migraines, vertigo and a history of paralysis must take precautions as it may create wrong positions compromising the neck, shoulder and arms.2
With the guidance of a trained yoga expert, you can assess and analyse the risk factors and continue to practise Naukasana with precautions.
Naukasana or Navasana is called the boat pose because the body appears like a boat in the final position. It is an intermediate-level asana where one has achieved control of one’s breathing and bodily movements. It can be performed in different variations, mainly in the supine or prone position. The boat pose targets the abdominal muscles, legs and lower back, improving core strength. Overall, it is an excellent stretching exercise.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is Naukasana called the ‘boat pose’?
Naukasana is a Sanskrit name where ‘Nauka’ means a boat and ‘asana’ means pose or posture. While performing Naukasana pose, our body appears boat shape in the final position hence, referred to as Naukasana.2
What are the contraindications of boat pose?
The contraindications of boat pose include high/low blood pressure, asthma, heart diseases, recent abdominal surgery, pregnancy, menstruation, severe headaches and migraine, etc.1,2
How many repetitions of boat asana can be performed?
You may take three repetitions of boat pose at a time and try to hold the position for about 10-20 seconds.2
Is Naukasana safe during pregnancy?
Pregnancy is one of the contraindications of boat pose. Pregnant women should avoid doing this pose as it might create an unsafe position leading to complications.1,2
What body parts are targeted in the Naukasana pose?
In Naukasana yoga, body parts such as abdominal muscles, legs, thighs, calves, hips, lower and upper back, arms, shoulders, etc. are mainly targeted.1-4
- Boat Pose | Naukasana | Navasana | Yoga Health Benefits | The Art of Living India [Internet]. [cited 2022 Sep 7]. Available from: https://www.artofliving.org/in-en/yoga/yoga-poses/boat-posture?utm_source=Google&utm_medium=Search&utm_campaign=SB_AOL_Traffic&gclid=CjwKCAjwvNaYBhA3EiwACgndgkzGfxF5U4klJ_ByfkiV5teludtYcQTtm_Q0PcWnDPwpTZoL-VOl8xoCYukQAvD_BwE
- Yogapoint- Guide to Yoga Practices. [Internet]. Yoga Point India; [cited 2022 Sep 6]. Available from: https://www.yogapoint.com/pdf/Yogapoint%20Book%20of%20Practices.pdf
- Boat Pose Yoga (Paripurna Navasana) – How to Do at Home? [Internet]. [cited 2022 Sep 5]. Available from: https://www.yogabear.org/boat-pose-yoga/
- Boat Pose – Paripurna Navasana – Australian School of Meditation & Yoga | ASMY [Internet]. [cited 2022 Sep 5]. Available from: https://asmy.org.au/yoga/boat-pose/
- Elite World Records [Internet]. [cited 2022 Sep 5]. Available from: https://eliteworldrecords.org/records/longest-time-holding-navasana-yoga-pose-on-a-table-by-an-individual-male-&669
Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.