Core work is an integral part of having a strong, lithe body with an upright and healthy posture, but if the mere thought of boat pose (an intense core centered yoga pose) makes you want to keel over and abandon ship, read how you can make it smooth sailing and much easier on yourself.
Don’t go overboard
Start with the basics. Before attempting the full expression of boat pose (with both legs and arms extended off the floor) practice the beginner version until you can fully integrate your core without compromising your low back.
Sit comfortably on your mat. Place both hands about 12 inches behind your hips and place them shoulder width apart. Bend both elbows and lean slightly onto your hands. Rock your pelvis forward just enough so you are teetering on top of your sit bones (the bony protrusions at the base of your pelvis).
Set your rudder
From this point it is important to set up the position of your torso for optimal results. First and foremost, drop your lower ribs down and lift the middle of your chest up, but do not round your lower back, stay propped up on your sit bones.
By doing this very important action in the beginner’s version, you will engage all the necessary core muscles to prepare you to lift your arms and legs off the mat. Practice boat pose in this position every other day for at least two weeks before proceeding. Keep working on this phase and you’ll soon be rocking your boat like a pro.
When you are ready to advance, enter the pose in the same way. Remember to keep anchoring your lower ribs as you lift your chest. Stay propped up on and rooted through both sit bones as you steady the pose.
Reel it in
Contract and pull up on your deep pelvic floor muscles as if you are trying to stop a stream of urine. In yogic terms, this action is called Mulabandha, and will help create the “floating lift” needed to float your boat pose with ease.
Next, lift both feet up off the mat. Align your knees directly over your hips and let your shins be parallel to the floor. If your boat is feeling buoyant, lift your arms and extend them straight out in front of you.
Lastly, increase your horsepower and kick your boat into gear by straightening both legs into a 45-degree angle.