Contraindications: Low back or neck injury. Late term pregnancy.
Main Focus: Balance on the “tripod” of the sitting bones and the tailbone, lifting the torso and the legs up. This will ensure correct alignment, and protect your lower back.
There is one thing runners love to do, and that is running. But to keep doing it for a long time, keep ourselves injury free, and get faster and better, we know we need to cross-train. A strong core is vital for a good running form, healthy biomechanics to prevent overuse injuries, and improvement in performance.
Boat pose gets deep into your core, strengthens the hip flexors, and can be customized to work your obliques as well. Follow my cues below, modify to make this posture more accessible, or consider challenging yourself with Boat Pose Twists, and OM to your PR.
- Start from a seated position, your knees bent, soles of the feet on the mat in front of you. Place your hands on the mat at your hips, fingers pointing towards the feet.
- Lean back to find your “tripod” of sitting bones and tailbone. Engage the abdominal muscles, pull the belly button to the spine for stability, and lift your legs.
- Squeeze the legs, draw the inner thighs together, and activate the feet. Lift the feet and unbend the knees until the legs are diagonal to the mat. If this is too much strain on the hip flexors, keep the knees bent, and the shins parallel to the mat.
- Elongate through the spine, lift out of the pelvis, and lift your sternum upward.
- Stretch your arms alongside the legs, parallel with the mat. Unshrug the shoulders and reach through the fingertips.
- Focus on balancing your posture on the “tripod” of the sitting bones and the tailbone. Beware of rounding or overarching your lower back. You can accomplish this by pulling the belly button to the spine to activate the lower belly, pressing the sitting bones into the mat, and engaging the pelvic floor.
- Keep your breath smooth and even.
- If straightening your knees and lifting the legs strains the hip flexors too much, you can keep the knees bent, shins parallel to the floor.
- If you feel your lower back curling and the pelvis tucking under, focus on pressing the sits bones into the mat, and hold the backs of your thighs with your hands.
- If the posture is too intense or you start losing your alignment, place the toes of one foot on the mat. Alternate feet every few seconds. Else you can place the toes of both feet on the mat to make the posture even more accessible.
- To make the posture more challenging and to engage the obliques:
- Bring your hands to your heart center in prayer, on an inhale elongate your spine and root your sitting bones into the mat;
- On the exhale twist to the right and tap your right elbow to the mat;
- On the inhale come back to center with a long spine and an engaged core;
- On the next exhale twist to the left and tap your left elbow to the mat;
- Repeat 9 more times on each side.