Ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but your obliques (the diagonal muscles that cross from the bottom of the ribs to the top of your pelvis) are in charge of making sure your ribs are properly aligned over your pelvis. If one side is stronger than the other, it can create a line of pull that will rotate or laterally flex your spine to one side, and over time create major imbalances not only through the core but up into the shoulders and down into the hips and feet.

Keep your obliques working hard with this Yoga Tune Up® variation on the classic Navasana or Boat Pose, done here on an angle to build oblique power! You can also find this pose on the 10 Minute Quick Fix for Lower Back.

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Sarah Court

Sarah Court is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, Yoga Tune Up® Teacher Trainer, and the creator of Quantum Leap. She teaches public workshops, anatomy for yoga teacher trainings, and trains Yoga Tune Up® teachers worldwide. She developed and teaches her Quantum Leap continuing education program to make sophisticated movement science easy for movement teachers to understand and apply to their teaching. Sarah received her doctorate in Physical Therapy from Mount St. Mary’s University. She brings significant clinical experience to her teaching, attracting clients and students with a desire to move intelligently, regain mobility, or manage chronic conditions. Sarah is an award-winning graduate of Princeton University, and edited the Yoga Tune Up® blog for 5 years. She has been featured on exercise.com and The New York Times. Find her Yoga Tune Up® schedule here or go to her full website.

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Thanks Sarah – I’ve been struggling with weakness in right hip and SI. Paying attention to these core stabilizers are truly helping.

Jackie Wolff

Interesting! I had never considered spinal imbalance and lateral flexion due to an imbalance in the oblique muscles! Makes so much sense. Problem is that most ab work addresses both sides at once, so I love this version of navasana. I have just the client with an asymmetric torso I want to try this with 🙂


Most folks have a dominant side. If the obliques are not evenly strong then over time, it could create an imbalance of the body and affect the shoulders and down into the hips and feet. One more reason to give each side the same amount of love and care.


This is confirmation! The obliques are amazing and can be a way of stabilizing the body from top to bottom. They are a work in progress for me and I am a student to my obliques. When they are active and alive, I feel a sense of anchorage! I like the variations of angling my boat pose. Being stronger on one side and not balancing from the obliques is is causing further instability to my scoliosis. I’m inspired, thank you!!

Ted Burnham

Thank you for this post. It shed light on what may be the problem with my back and shoulders. I had surgery on my right knee and during PT afterwards I lost movement in my left hip and thigh and found myself leaning severely at times to the right with a great deal of pain. I went to work on the hip, thigh and QL with my YTU Therapy Balls and YTU poses and found great relief. But afterwards I realized that I had problems with the stability in my hips and tightness in my shoulders. Your blog brought my… Read more »


Ok Sarah, I’m always learning more and more from you. My hip imbalances may be due to my obliques being imbalanced as well?!
I was pretty convinced that I had very strong obliques until I tried to do side half boat in your Yoga Tune Up class. Guess I have more to work on. Thanks for being such an amazing teacher and helping me to know what I now know.

Ananda Tinio

We did the jithara parivartanasana minivinis today at Level Teacher Training and having a difficult time pinning my legs together illuminated a major blind spot in my obliques as well as the low back muscles. I am asymmetric in my torso and slack in the corresponding low back muscles and the work today showed how important it is to keep the ribs aligned with the pelvis. I didn’t even know about the obliques. It is amazing how everything is interconnected anatomically and the YTU breakdown is making me FEEL movement I go through repetitively as if I’m a beginner.


OMG! so my yoga tune up training revealed something I already suspected… I am ASYMMETRIC in my torso which may be contributing to left hip and thigh pain, tightness and left shoulder instability. I NEVER SUSPECTED that my right side obliques might just be stronger…. causing a spinal deviation to the left… perhaps it will be 2 side boats on the left for every one on the right. I do suspect it may be more complicated than this… but feel that this is a good start to this exploration of my body.


Knowing that the obliques (internal and external) are part of our overall musculature of the abs is one thing. But to stop and analyze what they’re doing, what their purpose is, is something else. I didn’t know how important they are to make sure your ribs are properly aligned over your pelvis. And, without following that line of thought to think about major imbalances way up to the shoulders! Each time I think of body parts instead of integrated anatomy where everything is connected to everything thanks to our connective tissue and fascia, it opens up a whole new world… Read more »

Lou Shapiro

Thank you, Sarah (& Jill). Somehow this fills in the right pieces to Side Navasana that I wasn’t getting before. That doesn’t mean I’m GOOD at it. : ) However, it does mean I can improve. I’ve long been a big fan of sit-ups. But, the diagonal action brings in the obliques so much better. Must add this to my regimen.

Christopher Walling

YTU Training has introduced me to my obliques! I never knew how their contributions until the lower body work in YTU helped me identify their contributions to so many of my asanas. Even for people like me who are a little thicker, there are muscles underneath that adipose, I can assure you, and having my obliques in better condition will help support my asana architecture in transformative ways.


I’ve recently noticed that my pelvis has a slight spin to the left. I’ve been examining my QL on the right side and treating it with self massage because it is cranky and thought that is the reason for the spin. Another thing to explore…


My atudents will love this one.

Yi-Hsueh Lu

This is the scariest YTU pose I have ever done. The distinctive oblique activation by spinal rotation strikes out from all the other core muscles (which are all sweating at this moment to maintain a Tadasana spine in Navasana). Every pose is an assessment pose, if nothing else, this will teach the obliques a lesson. 😉

Renee holden

Great video! I’m a huge fan of new ways to excite and tax our core! Alway looking for something exciting and hard to challenge myself and others! This will do it!

Kristen B.

I have been working hard on navasana lately and seen great improvement in just a short amount of time, attention & repetition. Looking forward to the day when I can start to layer in this variation!


Thanks Jill for sharing this exercise. What a great workout for my obliques! I love it!
I will incorporate this in my abdominal routine.It makes me feel so great to strengthen my obliques.
My posture feels new and improved with stronger obliques.
Thanks for sharing.


I love the untraditional ways of approaching core strength – and YTU offers so many ways to challenge that deep oblique connection that is so imbalanced in most of us. With the whole idea of changing or altering a traditional pose’s position – the body is asked to recruit differently in every situation. This is a great exercise and really works to activate the whole tubular connection. Thanks for sharing!


I, too, love this version of navasana. The biggest challenge is not to roll too far back on the underside glutes. Really engaging the tubular core and very intentionally focusing on my breath helps knit everything together. Then it feels like flying!

Caitlin Rotkiewicz

It appears as if your legs are being pulled up by an invisible rope… impressive!


Ahh I love this! Navasana is one of my favorite poses! And I love this spin on it!


Hi Carly!

I used to have the same problem – my quadriceps tendon loved to just grab on for dear life and I didn’t know how to get around that and engage the muscles uptown! One of the YTU poses that has worked well to re-educate my body is called Cannonball, or Double Apanasana – essentially by deeply flexing both hips and shortening the tendon the core muscles have a chance to take charge in the pose before the tendon does!


I find that doing this exercise has often worked/strained more of my hip flexors (psoas) rather than my obliges. Is there anything you suggest for getting out of your hip flexors and more focused on this key muscle?

Lisa Salvucci

Love this variation of boat pose, especially since I use traditional boat pose in my classes on a regular basis. It really works those key obliques and will no doubt help with keeping my pelvis aligned with my ribs.

Tina Cuevas

I have always considered myself to have strong obliques, but when it was mentioned that one of the actions of the obliques is alignment of the ribs over the pelvis I started to revisit that assumption because I often have a problem keeping my ribcage stacked over my hips. I’m beginning to wonder if I do have a weekness in the core of perhaps there are other issues lurking here. This will be something for me to self-discover going forward as I start to employ the Yoga Tune Up methodology going forward.


I have minor scoliosis, and my left hip slightly rotates forward. However, I’ve used yoga therapeutically to bring things back into alignment (even though my scoliosis is structural, I can get almost back to neutral with specific yoga work). I’ve done this pose more in the form of Jathara Parivartanasana, and it definitely is challenging an useful for me. I look forward to trying this variation.

Lisa Larivière

I will try this tune up exercise. After having my 3rd child, going to the gym and doing ab work from slant boards has not been affective and somewhat painful, anatomically, this makes more sense and will allow me to go even deeper through PNF…

ika Tobieson

I was not aware that the strength in the obliques played such a big part in the alignment for the ribs to pelvis. It is just WOW! A whole new universe of is opening itself by listening to Jill as she teaches and also reading what is on this blog, watching the videos is very informative. Thanks.


Love this pose, but it’s definitely challenging for me to do. Jill makes it look so effortless while she talks you through it.

mariana m

I love this pose, and looking forward to one day do it with my legs straight and a big smile!!


Such a creative twist on navasana. I just watched the video for the first time, does visualizing my legs lifting effortlessly count as I lay in bed? Probably not, so off I go to try this great oblique strengthener. Thank you Sarah for the info. On why it is so important to target this area.

Janet Berkowitz

Great spin on Navasana! This looks like quite an intense oblique pose!
Can’t wait to try it!- Just did! Not as easy as it appears – Those obliques are really truned on to stabilize the body!It’s difficult to keep the legs lifted!

anh chi

i have a new appreciation for the obliques after these past 2 days of training (and also recognize the need to strengthen this area for myself). i’m looking forward to trying this one out.


Such a challenging and useful variation! Other oblique exercises, like a twisting crunch position, are hard to do without adding strain to the neck or trapezius – or at least that’s what I’ve found myself and with some students. This seems like a great alternative since you are sitting up in navasana, with the support of the hands, and focusing on one side of the body at a time. Much more accessible to most core-averse, or those of us that are weaker in the obliques. Breath is so important in core work and the use of that in this clip… Read more »


I still find side half boat an enormous challenge but have found new strength in my core after a couple of months of sidewinder and crunches using the veleo ball for support, I’m feeling the oblique integration needed to master side half boat.

Keith Wittenstein

This is a good reminder to me. As I practice I keep finding imbalances in my body and sometimes I don’t know where to begin in fixing them. I have noticed that my torso naturally rotates to the left a little bringing my right ribs and shoulder forward of my right hip. Perhaps it would be fruitful for me to work on some more exercises for my obliques to help counteract that rotation.

Erika O

I am a huge fan of core variations. I cant wait to bring this into my own practice to change it up! And more importantly i cant wait to use it on my future students.


love this one. My students especially love it too!

george hirsch

i didnt think there could be anything harder than navasana. well i was wrong! i maxed out with my legs at about a foot off the floor. i wonder if it is normal to cramp up in the bottom inner thigh?


This was interesting, I wasn’t aware that the strength in the obliques played such a big part in the alignment for the ribs to pelvis.


I enjoy building up to this variation using Ardha Navasana, staying low to start, rising up and down from supine Tadasana on the mat. Gives me a chance to assess today’s obliques. If they’re ‘good to go’, next is full Navasana, followed by some bobbing up and down between half and full Navasana. That warrants a breathe or two in Ardha Savasasana, then onto to oblique Navasana

Orlando Batista

I was waiting for you to lift those arms off the floor as well. I think that I was even getting ready to hold my breath at the thought of it. I am off to go and do it myself. Thanks for the inspiration Jill. Happy Tuning….Orlando

Tracy Crooks

I love this boat variation. Last fall was my first attempt at this pose, I could barely lift my legs, but using my obliques to hike the legs up. I discovered my obliques were strong but needed to tune up all the core muscles to perform together to do this pose. It has assisted me in so many other asanas my new core strength is more balanced.

Eva Berswick

I am not a fan of navasana, though I know I need it. That’s why I’m not a fan. It is just too hard for me. Hopefully the side half boat pose will strengthen my obliques enough to conquer my aversion to boat. If you come from the two sides, you must meat in the middle somehow. 🙂


I am a huge fan of incorporating traditional navasana into my practice and my teaching. I love the feeling of approaching poses with an activated core and a central strength. However, as Jill says, the obliques need some better PR! I am excited to bring this variation into my regular practice and experience the benefits. I’m sure i will become a devoted promoter!