By Mark Goldstein
May is here and that means the arrival of our long awaited refreshing rains. Our rivers and waterfalls will be filling up again, and many of us will be heading for the beach as we have some extra time now that our busy season has ended. So, what to do with our yoga practice during this time of abundance of water, and shedding of clothes as we head for the beach?………..yes, it’s Boat Pose!
Let’s all plan to float our boats this May.
We will get to work on our balance and tone up our core abdominal muscles, big time. Boat pose, or Paripurna Navasana, encompasses so many yoga principles, and so I will be referring to some of my past articles. You can always take a look at them on line at the Quepolandia website. Pat has done a great job there presenting all of our past and present articles.
I used the phrase “float your boat” because this is really how we should be looking at this challenging strong pose. Are we working hard in Boat Pose? You bet we are, but it will be much less work then you probably think, especially when you use your super power yoga engagements.
One of most important engagements you’ll utilize is your “Barbie Foot”. Lots on that in a past article Yoga and your Inner Barbie. When using this engagement, your legs will be full of energy and much lighter.
Another important focus point is when we send our shoulder blades down our backs. This will do two things for you:
- It will open up your chest so that your breath will be deep and full.
- As well, you will be benefitting from this action as you press down into the Earth, therefore raising you up into the air simply by pressing down. (see my article Becoming Lighter).
When using these two engagements you will make this powerful yoga pose available to yourself in one of its variations.
Whether you are ready to go right into Full Boat Pose, or if you begin by practicing a variation such as “half Boat Pose”, you are doing boat pose and both creating and receiving all of the benefits. As with any practice in yoga that involves strength, and strength building, you will progress, I promise you that you will. Keep doing it and you will go further and further until you reach your personal goal. So what are we achieving? What are the benefits? Why do this?
First, and perhaps most obviously, we are strengthening our abdominal muscles. Yes, it is wonderful to have your belly look great, and this practice can help us to change that pesky keg into a six-pack, nothing wrong with that. However, even if we don’t shed pounds or inches with this exercise, we will still be strengthening, and this is very important to the health of our lower backs, our lumbar spine area.The vast majority of lower back pain and injury tends to be a result of improperly using our lower back. Much of the time it is when we end up using back muscles when we really need to be using our front muscles and our legs.
Toning our front muscles, our core abdominal muscles, will offer support to our lower back. Just as importantly, when we tone up our core muscles, we become much more aware that we have them, and therefore utilize them more. So you see, it really is a win/win situation, this Boat Pose. We tone our core muscles, use them more (which in turn tones them even more), save ourselves from lower back injury and pain, gain confidence, make more friends, help our neighbors, save the whales, and make the world a better place!
So, our pose of the month here at PranaVida Wellness, located at Prana Rainforest Retreat (tell all of your friends) is our all encompassing, tummy tucking, and earth saving Boat Pose. We will be focusing on practicing our own set of variations all this month, and beyond, and see how big and light our boats can get, please join us!