Boat Pose Builds Core Strength and Stokes Our Internal Fire

navasana-boat-pose

A few days ago I wrote about tapas – the inner fire that motivates us to persist towards a goal. It is this discipline that brings about transformation. But how can we strengthen tapas through asana practice?

Sometimes when we describe a person who is working very hard at something, we say they have a “fire in the belly.” The Yoga Sutras calls upon us to live life with enthusiasm in order to ignite the inner flame (Tapas).

When I first started taking karate, I was quite shy about shouting “kiai” (a short yell often done before a technique or strike) and it usually came out as kind of a whisper. In martial arts, we vocalize kiai to project our internal strength. It is a cry that originates from the belly. After practicing for awhile and gaining more confidence in myself and my karate, my kiai became much more enthusiastic and it felt great!

According to Japanese beliefs, the hara is a central source of chi (life force energy) that is located about an inch or two below the belly button. Similarly, in yoga we focus on the navel center to fuel the fire of action and change.

Navasana (Boat Pose)

Navasana is a yoga pose that helps to build core strength. It strengthens the abdominal muscles, hip flexors and spine and also helps with digestion. It also works your balance and relieves stress.

Directions

Start on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat in front of you. Place your hands slightly  behind your hips with fingertips facing forward. Press into the ground feeling strong in your arms.

Lift your sternum and lean backwards from your hips. Keep your spine lengthened and try not to round your back.

Take a deep breath in and as you exhale, lift your feet off the floor so that your thighs are angled at 45°. Keep your knees bent or for more of a challenge, begin to slowly straighten your legs.

Keep your hands either on your thighs or stretch your arms alongside your legs so that they are parallel to the floor.

Keep your lower body firm and but remember to breath. Tip your chin slightly towards your chest.

Stay in the pose for 3 to 6 breaths, eventually working up to holding for one minute. Release your legs slowly on an exhale. Inhale and bring yourself to an upright position. Repeat the posture two or three more times.

Have a look at Sadi Nardini’s Navasana video below where she shows some cool variations suited to different levels. I think this is a great flowing sequence for stimulating the core and building internal fire.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reru9O8KrX0[/youtube]

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