Here Nikki is showing 3 Navasana variations that might be useful if your Navasana looks less like a “v” and more like a “u.” Perhaps your hamstrings lack the requisite length, and pull your pelvis posteriorly (say that 5x fast).
One expedient approach is to reduce the load on the quads by shortening the levers. As Nikki shows, a good first stage is more of a “w”: just hover the feet off the floor, legs together.
The next option is to bring the shins parallel to the floor.
Finally: full “boat.”
There are a few more options only used in an improv class (i.e. not daily), such as straddle and split-boat (i.e. one leg up/one leg down), both of which are interesting variations.
Also an obligatory caveat is that Nikki has practiced very consistently for several years and brings to the practice her own unique background, traits, and gifts; in other words your mileage may vary.
Navasana is a real pivot point in Primary Series, as it is one of just three positions repeated more than once, and the only posture in Primary Series repeated more than once (surya namaskar and urdvha dhanurasana are the other two, and technically they are not in Primary Series).
Prior to this point all the postures have been static; there’s one isometric hold in utthita hasta padangustasana (standing with one leg extended and held) — not coincidentally that standing pose is hugely impactful on navasana. Ashtanga is rare and unique among posture-based yoga, at least to my knowledge, in that after navasana it incorporates a host of dynamic movements (rolling), perhaps more on this point later.
What is the takeaway? Find the navasana that you can sustain — and then sustain it, in sequence, with the other postures!
The Primary Series Saturation starts next weekend! You can bring your navasana and test its seaworthiness, as well as ask a million other questions. You’ll also get into the myths and philosophy that surround this practice. More info here: http://www.portlandashtangayoga.com/events.html
Jason owns and directs Portland Ashtanga Yoga.