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1. From a seated position bend the knees, bringing the feet flat to the floor with the legs together. Slide the hands behind your hips with the fingers pointed forward and elbows bent away from you.
2. Lean back to lift the heels an inch or two off the floor. Draw the shoulder blades together to lift and open the chest.
3. Slowly begin to straighten the legs, kicking out through the heels, lifting the legs up as high as comfortable. Release the arms forward, parallel to the floor with the palms facing down. Keep the chest open and the shoulders down and back.
4. Breathe and hold for 2-6 breaths. Put as much effort into lifting the chest as you are in lifting the legs.
5. To release: exhale and bend the knees, lowering the feet back to the floor.
Benefits: Boat pose tones and strengthens the abdominal muscles, improves balance and confidence, and stretches the backs of the legs.
Contraindications: Recent or chronic injury to the abdomen, knees, hips, arms or shoulders.
Modifications: A) Keep the hands on the floor, behind the hips or out to the sides. B) Wrap a yoga strap around the feet and hold onto the strap with both hands.
Variations: Interlace the middle and index fingers around the big toes.