Instructor: Sarah N.
Sarah has completed an intensive yoga teacher training program in Pune, India at the BKS Iyengar Yoga Institute. She has been inspired to continue practicing yoga for life.

Boat Pose: Step-by-Step Instructions

Paripurna Navasana, also known as "Boat Pose," tones your abdominal, hip flexor and lower back muscles all at the same time while you balance on your sitting bones and tailbone.

Step by Step Pose Information Benefits Variations

Paripurna Navasana

(Pronounced as "par-ee-POOR-nah NAH-VAHS-anna")

Paripurna means "full or complete," and nava means "boat." Hence, your body takes the shape of a boat with your arms representing the oars that row it.

How to do Boat Pose

Step One:

Take a seat on your yoga mat with your legs stretched out straight in front of you. Press your palms into the floor by the sides of your hips as if you are about to push your buttocks up off of the floor. Your fingers should point forward. Inhale as you stretch your chest up and keep your arms straight. Feel your whole torso lengthen upward.

Step Two:

Keeping your back and arms straight at all times, tighten your stomach muscles and exhale as you start to lean back. Press your palms down at your sides for extra support as you bend your knees and lean back to put all of your weight onto your sitting bones and tailbone.

Your thighs should be at a 45 degree angle above the floor. Keep lifting your chest up and pull your bellybutton in toward your spine.

Step Three:

If you can go further, then gradually stay balanced on your sitting bones as you straighten your knees and point your toes. Try to hold your ankles up at the same level as your eyes and tighten your thighs to help support yourself.

Step Four:

Without disturbing the position of your legs or your balance, hold your back straight as you lift up your straightened arms to the level of your shoulders. Do not grab your legs. Instead, reach forward through your fingers into the air as if you are about to grab something a small distance away from you.

If you can't maintain your balance while lifting the arms, then you can keep pressing your palms into the floor next to your hips.

Step Five:

Keep breathing as you hold the pose for at least 10 seconds, and you can gradually increase holding up to one minute. Lift yourself up and hold the back straight by pressing your sitting bones down further into your yoga mat. Feel your spine lengthening from your tailbone all the way up through your neck, keeping your head and back in perfect alignment.

Breathe out as you lower your legs and return to a relaxed sitting posture.

Beginner's Tip

Build up your strength to prepare for this pose by sitting on the front edge of a chair. Then grab the sides of your seat with both of your hands and lean forward a bit.

Use your arms to lift your buttocks an inch off the seat. Now keep the balls of your feet on the floor and lift your heels off of the floor. Allow the tops of your thigh bones to sink down naturally as you lift your chest up and forward.

Boat Pose Information

Sanskrit Name

Paripurna Navasana

Pose Level

Level 1

Contraindications and Cautions:

  • Breathing Troubles
  • Excessive Bowel Movements or Diarrhea
  • Migraines
  • Heart Conditions
  • Inability to Sleep
  • Menstruation
  • Pregnancy
  • If you have a neck injury: Sit with a wall behind you as you practice this pose. After leaning your torso back, rest just the back of your head against the wall.

Modifications and Props

To help lift and extend the raised legs, bend your knees and place a yoga belt around your feet. Grab both ends of the belt tightly in your hands. Breathe in as you lean back. Exhale and use the belt to help pull your legs up, pushing your feet against the belt as well.

Deepen the Pose

Full Boat strengthens the deep hip-flexor muscles along with the abdominals. Remember to press these inner-thigh bones down to anchor yourself as your practice this pose. When you do this correctly, you can keep the lower front belly relaxed while you keep your balance.

Boat Pose Benefits

  • Reduces lower back pain
  • Stimulates circulation in the abdominal organs, kidneys, thyroid and reproductive organs
  • Strengthens the hip flexors
  • Boosts digestion

Boat Pose Variations

Ardha Navasana (pronounced "ARE-dah." Ardha means "half.")

From Full Boat Pose, put your hands together to support the back of your head. As you exhale, lower your legs a little so that your toes are at eye level. Shift your body weight onto your sacrum while keeping your lower back off of the floor. You can bring your head forward, but try to keep most of your torso fairly straight. Stretch your elbows out to the sides and hold the pose as long as you can while you keep breathing.


Ask a partner to stand behind you. When you lean back, they can bend their knees and press their knees in between your shoulder blades. Then you have extra support to feel how much you need to lift your chest, which is critical to keep your back straight in this posture.

Next Pose:

Bound Angle Pose

9 styles | 152 poses

Beginner Yoga Poses

Bharadvaja's Twist Pose
Big Toe Pose
Boat Pose
Bound Angle Pose
Bow Pose
Bridge Pose
Camel Pose
Cat Pose
Chair Pose
Child's Pose
Cobra Pose
Corpse Pose
Cow Pose
Cow Face Pose
Crow Pose
Dolphin Plank Pose
Downward Dog Pose
Eagle Pose
Eight Angle Pose
Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose
Extended Puppy Pose
Extended Side Angle Pose
Firefly Pose
Fish Pose
Garland Pose
Half Frog Pose
Half Lord of the Fishes Pose
Half Moon Pose
Yoga Handstand
Happy Baby Pose
Head To Knee Pose
High Lunge Pose
Legs Up The Wall Pose
Locust Pose
Lotus Pose
Shoulder Pressing Pose
Low Lunge Pose
Monkey Pose
Mountain Pose
Noose Pose
Plank Pose
Plow Pose
Sage Koundinya I Pose
Sage Marichi's Pose
Reclining Bound Angle Pose
Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose
Revolved Triangle Pose
Revolved Head to Knee Pose
Reclining Hero Pose
Scale Pose
Side Reclining Leg Lift Pose
Peacock Pose
Pyramid Pose
Crescent Lunge Pose
Heron Pose
Hero Pose
Feathered Peacock Pose
Staff Pose
Seated Forward Bend Pose
Four Limbed Staff Pose
Revolved Side Angle Pose
Wild Thing Pose
Side Crow Pose
Side Plank Pose
Sphinx Pose
Supported Headstand (Sirsasana)
Tree Pose
Standing Split
Supported Shoulderstand
Standing Half Forward Bend
Triangle Pose
Upward Plank Pose
Upward Facing Two Foot Staff Pose
Wheel Pose
Upward Salute Pose
Upward Facing Dog Pose
Warrior I Pose
Warrior II Pose
Warrior III Pose
Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend
Easy Pose
Gate Pose
Wide Legged Forward Fold
Dancer Pose
One-Legged King Pigeon Pose
One-Legged King Pigeon Pose II
Marichi's Pose
Fire Log Pose
Standing Forward Bend
Pose Dedicated to the Sage Koundinya II

Next Courses

41 Yoga Instructors online
Ashburn, VA

26 Yoga Classes found near you!

The best way to learn yoga is to take lessons from a professional teacher. Want to see the yoga classes near you?