In the physical practice of yoga, the center of the asana’s strength comes from the core. The core is the center of balance, movement and personal power. A strong core helps to heal emotionally bound problems while giving us an innate sense of who we are.
In our practice, a strong core helps to support the spine and lower back. This helps to prevent injury while lessoning the chance of S.I. joint issues and compression of the lower lumbar disk while igniting the digestive fire to help eliminate the toxins from the body physically and mentally.
A pose that helps to strengthen the core substantially is boat pose (Navasava). Boat pose strengthens the abdominal muscles, spine, low back and hip flexors. Therapeutically, this pose stimulates the kidneys, thyroid and intestines helping to improve digestion. This strong pose can even relieve stress.
As you begin to practice this pose, you may initially lack the strength and flexibility to perform the full pose. Remember form and breath are necessary to maintain the integrity of the pose. Taking a more modified approach to the pose initially will prove beneficial until you can progress to full boat.
Start in a seated position with knees bent and feet on the ground, hip width apart. Lifting the arms straight out from the shoulders, begin to lean back and engage the abdominal muscles by scooping the navel up and in towards the spine.Make sure not to cave the upper body. Press the feet firmly into the earth particularly through the big toes and insides of the heels. This will engage the inner thighs, the adductors, so the deep transverse abdominal muscles will fire. This modified version is appropriate for pregnancy or anyone will low back issues.
Deepening the pose:
As you build strength, you can begin to lift the feet off the ground. This will require you to lengthen out of the lumbar spine (low back) and to lift the chest towards the sky while keeping the abs engaged. Feel the head of your thigh bones anchor into the pelvis to give the pose a base of strength. If you lack the flexibility in your hamstrings to straighten your legs all the way, you may need to keep them slightly bent until you can straighten the legs with out caving the spine.
So this is how to perform Navasana – baot pose. Practice this pose to gain inner strength as well as strength in the abs, spine and hip flexors. Gaining strength in this pose will also help to improve your posture, lessen back pain and will help to increase your center of power in other poses.