Friday, October 18, 2013

Fitness Friday - Boat Pose

Today's Fitness Friday will be going right back to my yoga obsession...we are going to be looking at Boat Pose today.  This is one of my favorite and least favorite poses all at the same time, I love how it works my core but hate how it feels when working my core.  This pose is very similar to doing forearm planks and the focus can be on holding the pose for multiple breathes or on using core strength to go up and down in the pose.  I am trying to hold the pose for five breaths and I haven't even began trying the latter way of using it to build my core.

The version of the pose that I have pictured with this post is the full pose, I can't hold the full pose yet and I use the variation of having my legs up but bent at the knees.  My problem with trying to hold the full pose is balance, I tend to fall backwards when bringing my legs all the way up.  I need to work my core more in the variation before I can work to the full pose.

Yoga Journal provides instructions on how to work into and achieve the pose.  The instructions are for the full pose however using a modification in the second step is a great way to work into the pose slowly.

- Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. Press your hands on the floor a little behind your hips, fingers pointing toward the feet, and strengthen the arms. Lift through the top of the sternum and lean back slightly. As you do this make sure your back doesn’t round; continue to lengthen the front of your torso between the pubis and top sternum. Sit on the “tripod” of your two sitting bones and tailbone.

- Exhale and bend your knees, then lift your feet off the floor, so that the thighs are angled about 45-50 degrees relative to the floor. Lengthen your tailbone into the floor and lift your pubis toward your navel. If possible, slowly straighten your knees, raising the tips of your toes slightly above the level of your eyes. If this isn’t possible remain with your knees bent, perhaps lifting the shins parallel to the floor.

- Stretch your arms alongside the legs, parallel to each other and the floor. Spread the shoulder blades across your back and reach strongly out through the fingers. If this isn’t possible, keep the hands on the floor beside your hips or hold on to the backs of your thighs.

- While the lower belly should be firm, it shouldn’t get hard and thick. Try to keep the lower belly relatively flat. Press the heads of the thigh bones toward the floor to help anchor the pose and lift the top sternum. Breathe easily. Tip the chin slightly toward the sternum so the base of the skull lifts lightly away from the back of the neck.

- At first stay in the pose for 10-20 seconds. Gradually increase the time of your stay to 1 minute. Release the legs with an exhalation and sit upright on an inhalation.

I like how Yoga Journal describes the best way to get into the pose and then ways to work into the full pose.  I know very full people (other than yoga teachers) that can work all the way up into the full pose so I am working on this and wondering how long it will take until I can get into it. 

I currently hold Boat Pose for three breaths and my small goal is to get up to five breaths.  The goal is to do the work from your core and strengthen all of these key muscles. I will report back over the next few months as I grow into the core crunching pose.

photo courtesy of Yoga Journal

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