The Top 20 Boat Pose Variations used in our personal training and yoga flows in Our Yoga Studio in Alexandria, VA.
Incorporating more boat pose variations in your yoga flows help build a strong, stable core. Boat pose is essentially the hollow hold from CrossFit. The more you learn about different variations of fitness, the more you learn they are the same. Gymnastics style training uses the hollow hold (legs out and arms up) to train the core. Navasana or boat pose works exactly the same way. We do boat pose to build core flexion in the rectus abdominis. The variations on boat pose that you see featured below target the psoas, trans abs, iliacus, hip flexors, and other muscles groups that comprise the CORE.
The video that you are about to watch explains the 20 variations shown in the infographic at the bottom of the page. In the video, we discuss the difficulty of the poses, and more importantly why these 20 variations of boat made our list.
20 Boat Pose Variations Yoga Studio Alexandria VA
Boat Pose Variation 1. Navasana.
So our first pose here is our boat pose in our standard form with knees bent. In our Yoga Studio in Alexandria, VA, we use a block the block helps engagement of the adductors so that you can kind of build more core strength that makes this pose easier, and still more effective. You can of course do it without the block. Some people have trouble keeping their shins and their knees together depending on their hips are going, and so the block makes that part easier. In addition, you can see you know binding the legs also make suppose easier.
Boat Pose Variation 2. Navasana.
So our first pose here is our boat pose in our standard form with knees bent. We use a block the block helps engagement of the adductors so that you can kind of build more core strength that makes this pose easier, and still more effective. You can of course do it without the block. Some people have trouble keeping their shins and their knees together depending on their hips are going, and so the block makes that part easier. In addition, you can see you know binding the legs also make suppose easier.
Boat Pose Variation 3. Navasana – Upwards Hands Variation.
This pose here number two this is our standard navasana pose. Here the toes are a little bit dorsiflexed you know normally plantar flexion would be shown in boat pose. The key though is a nice straight back pushing the chest forward helps a lot with making this pose effective for the core. Here this pose is like our hands-up variation it’s much harder than this one you can raise one hand and you can change the angle that you kind of your back and your legs make higher up like shown in this little figure is much more challenging than if it’s kind of laying down a little bit more.
Boat Pose Variation 4. Yogi Bicycles.
The yogi bicycle variation, which is shown right here, is kind of like a classic personal trainer move it’s basically we cross elbow across the body it works the trans abs and the obliques and then we switch sides bringing the knee to elbow. For additional challenge, you can also bring the knee elbow past the knee or even extend the arm to the outside of the shin to get a little bit more twisting and your yogi bicycle.
Boat Pose Variation 5. Ubhyaya Padangusthasana.
The both big toe pose (Ubhyaya Padangusthasana) is a very challenging pose to hold. You need a lot of compression to get your legs very high to form the straight back so you don’t roll over. A lot of people have trouble with this pose when they’re in a rounded position trying to reach for their toes, so you need a lot of hamstring mobility as well. There’s also a split leg variation which is also a little bit easier to do.
Boat Pose Variation 6. Elevated Boat Pose – Utthita Navasana.
The elevated boat has a lot of different names it’s also called an L hold. For most people, this pose is very difficult to do. I recommend trying it with blocks. You get all the core function without having to get your legs perfectly straight. It’s a very good exercise for strengthening the core, and you’ll definitely see some variation of it in our Yoga Flow Classes in Alexandria VA.
Boat Pose Variation 7. Boat Pose on Forearms.
Boat Pose on Forearms is easier than the standard boat (variation 2), because we’re using our elbows. It also allows you to avoid stretching or pulling from your back, because your arms are supported. It gets just as much core as standard boat and helps prevent people from doing the form incorrectly. It’s an excellent pose, and far under appreciated by yoga instructors in Alexandria VA.
Boat Pose Variation 8. Ardha Baddha Padma Navasana.
The half -lotus boat pose. The way this pose works is different for people’s mobility. So here it’s shown with a reverse bind. A lot of people have trouble with this variation. Particularly men don’t quite have enough shoulder mobility to grab their foot. So you can do it with this hand on this foot and this hand reaching across. You don’t have to do the bind. The whole point of this one, is the force of the foot pull down and makes holding the boat more difficult, because it increases the hip flexor activation or hip flexor strength needed to do this pose.
Boat Pose Variation 9. The V-Up.
Sometimes my personal trainers in our Alexandria VA studio borrow my yoga poses from yoga, and they call them stretches. But Yogis steal plenty from personal trainers too. This pose (which is a swill ball V-up) is an excellent exercise. For strengthening the adductors and the core. If you want to call it a yoga Asana — I’m cool with that. As long as your core is strong — that’s what really matters in the end.
Boat Pose Variation 10. Ardha Navasana Flow.
This pose is basically a legs-up crunch. So we start in this like hollow position and then we kind of sit up. I will usually have a client with their hands out, I don’t really like to have clients pull from the head. It can cause neck pain. And you can just drive your hand straight up, and that will get plenty of the kind of the top abdominal muscles working big-time. In-fact you don’t even need to drop the legs. Just pushing straight up works the core great if they have enough strength to control the leg lowering bring them back up and then crunch up and that’s some serious core work right there.
Boat Pose Variation 11. Revolved Heron Pose.
This is an easier pose. This pose is almost more of a twisting pose than it is a core pose, but for some people, the strength needed just to keep their leg up is sufficient.
Boat Pose Variation 12. Reclined Eagle Crunch.
This pose works similar to the yogi bicycles — variation 4. It’s a crunch, we have our elbow arms and eagle as well as our legs, and we’re just drawing our knees to our elbow. Maybe we do ten on this side and then we’ll uncross everything in recross and do ten the other side. It’s really nice to work the transverse abdominus.
Boat Pose Variation 13. Revolved Cross Legged Boat Pose.
I have to confess, I love this pose. If you are taking my Alignment 88 Class, I might slip it in. This is a really cool pose, because it allows you to really hit a hard twist while also doing boat. I like to do this one in some of our more advanced flows. It’s a pose a lot of people can’t do when they start practicing yoga but within a few months they’re able to do it. And that’s really powerful to them.
If this is not accessible to you yet, you can of course do variations 14 or 15 which are easier and similar. Bent knees decreases some of the leverage.
Boat Pose Variation 14. Revolved Boat.
The revolved boat variation is one of the easier boat poses on this list. Once you have a strong bent knee boat, you can try this pose. Just keep your torso upright as you twist.
Boat Pose Variation 15. Revolved Boat with Straight Legs.
Variations on asanas 14 and 15 are about degree of difficulty. To go from 14 to 15, you simply extend the knees and hold the toes. If you have the core strength and hamstring flexibility, go for it.
Boat Pose Variation 16. Boat pose with Strap.
This pose is under used in classes, because of it’s step up time. However, it’s very powerful in generating spinal extension in a compressed hip position. It also, help teach the core to lift the legs high enough to properly do Ubhyaya Padangusthasana.
Boat Pose Variation 17. Forearm Scissors Boat
This pose is similar to variation 7, except we flutter the legs. Like many of these core-based poses, this pose is often used in personal training sessions. It’s simply called the leg scissor. Resting on your forearms or hanging from a decline bench is the best position for most people.
Boat Pose Variation 18. Alternating knee Flexion / Hip Crunch
I cue this pose by instructing members to pull their knees to their shoulder. This boat pose variation works to alternating knee crunches (variations 4 and 12). It’s similar to the yogi bicycle, except we’re not really twisting. We’re just working single knee compression and it’s a useful pose especially when you sequence it with other poses like the supine forearm scissor flow.
Boat Pose Variation 19. Boat Pose with Strap and Arms Straight.
Hey, doesn’t this pose look like #16? It sure does. But it’s scaled down version. Part of being a really good yoga instructor is having ample variations (scalings) of poses. Members need to be able to work hard to get results. Having options for poses (like 16 and 19) allow you to teach the same yoga flow to more people.
Boat Pose Variation 20. Elevated Pose in L- Hold.
Hey, doesn’t this pose look like #6? It sure does. But it’s scaled down version. Wait didn’t I just say that? All of these poses are variations of each other. The more poses we add the more they start to look like each other. I teach this particular variation in Ashtanga for coaching the Jump through and pull through. Having the strength to hold this position makes these two movement patterns much easier.