Ship’s ahoy! Boat pose (navasana) is a simple –yet challenging – yoga pose that builds abdominal, hip and lower spinal strength. Practicing Boat pose also enhances digestion, stimulates the thyroid and aids in kidney, prostate and intestinal function. Plus, for kids, Boat pose provides an opportunity to play in their imaginations.
Boat Parade: Teach poses for different kinds of boats. Start by demonstrating Boat pose. Once everyone has tried it, add these variations (all starting from the basic Boat pose):
• Kayak: Twist side-to-side, arms and legs going opposite directions, like you are paddling.
• Rowboat: Bring arms and legs closer, then extend them long, hovering over the floor. Repeat like you are rowing oars.
• Sailboat: Instead of arms reaching toward feet, lift the arms overhead like sails.
• Motorboat: In traditional Boat pose, feet flutter-kick, like the motor of a boat would.
• Dinghy: Make the tiniest Boat Pose you can.
• Cruise Ship: Make the biggest, most spread out Boat you can.
Once everyone has tried all the variations, add some music and play a Freeze Dance type of game. While the music plays, everyone walks in a circle (or pretends to swim, surf, or float) along the mats. When the music pauses, drop to a mat and do one of the Boat pose variations. Then the music plays again. Make the activity more challenging by taking away a mat every time (like Musical Chairs) or not allowing two of the same boats to anchor next to each other.
Ride the Waves: It’s not always smooth sailing. Sometimes rough weather creates waves we have to float over. Starting from Boat (any variation), imagine a wave approaches. As you go up and over the wave, rock back (still in Boat) toward a Plow pose with legs either in the air or over your head behind you. When you get over the wave, your boat rights itself as you roll back into Boat pose. The challenge is to do this without using your hands or letting your feet touch the ground!
House Boats: This is a partner pose activity. Sit facing your partner with bent knees and soles of the feet touching. Hold hands with your partner, arms on the outside of your legs. Press your feet together and begin to straighten them. Alternately, instead of holding hands, each partner could hold a strap and loop it over their partner’s feet. This can be a house boat, with people crawling underneath the lifted legs. It could also be a glass bottom boat with animals – kids can be fish, eels (cobra), crocodiles, etc.- swimming underneath. When you’re finished with your boat trip, be sure to put the boats away properly with a partner forward fold. Lower down from the Double Boat pose. Keep your feet touching and let your legs begin to straighten. Reach for each other’s hands and forward fold. Talk to your partner and make sure that you both are feeling a nice stretch.
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