Holding Boat Pose has as much to do with alignment as it does core work. In fact, if you are not aligned sufficiently you may not be using much core at all! Plus it can be extremely hard on your neck and hips to hold the pose without the right shoulder and leg set up.
So take a seat on your folded yoga blanket, and let’s get to work! Here’s how to fix the most common misalignments in Boat Pose:
1. Hunched Shoulders
Generally in yoga your ears and your shoulders are not friends. Your shoulders should be sliding down away from your ears to lengthen you neck, and to relax the trapezius muscle.
The above motion also helps you press your shoulder blades together behind you so you can lift your chest a little more and gain strength for a longer hold. In my classroom we call this “The Kissing Lovers” in that your shoulder blades want to kiss behind your back.
2. Arched Neck
Tuck your chin towards your chest to lengthen the back of your neck. This will take the stress out of your neck and prevent it aching after your practice.
3. The Curvy Spine
Yes, it’s true we do not have “flat backs.” We are curvaceous creatures with an S curve for a spine. However, pressing into what feels like a flat back shape in your Boat Pose is essential to support your lumbar region.
- Start with your knees bent, as this takes the stress out of your low back. You can always straighten your legs the stronger you feel.
- Second, pull your belly in -- this is core work. You should feel as if your navel could reach back and bungee chord itself to your spine with your ribs pressing forward.
- Press your shoulders back into place and lift your clavicle up to the sky. You are now using your voluptuous S curve to hold a flat back!
4. Floppy Legs
To correct your legs you need to pay attention to your toes. In Boat you could utilize any of the “yoga toes” variations (toes fanned out, pointed, flexed), but you must make sure you are actively pressing into your feet.
Separate your feet so there is air between them, then press your knees (bent or straight) closer together. Now your legs are not floppy and your hips are internally rotated enough to support your hold.
The more active your legs, the lighter they are for your hips and abdominals to hold up.
Holding an aligned Boat Pose for a minimum of 5 breaths every time you practice will make a huge difference to your overall practice. Try it, and make sure to let us know how it goes in the comments below!