Like many of us out there, a few days indulgence in decadent food, booze in its various forms, crappy (but excellent) Christmas movies and ample lounging are on the horizon as we enter the festive season. No doubt things are little different this year - given we're in a global pandemic - but we're sure that won't stop most of you going to town on the Christmas pud, demolishing the Boxing Day buffet and knocking back a bottle or two of vino. We're only human, right?
All that gluttony can leave you feeling lethargic, uncomfortable and under the weather. The last thing you probably want to do is roll out your yoga mat. But a little bit of yoga can go a long way in helping you feel human again.
We've put together a sequence of 9 Festive Yoga Poses to Improve Digestion, soothe a throbbing head, and ultimately get you back in action for 2021. What's festive about these poses? Absolutely nothing.
Perform these poses at a steady pace, holding for 1-3 minutes per pose. Take it easy - we don't want any accidents...
9 Festive Yoga Poses to Improve Digestion
1. Child’s pose (Balasana)
Child’s pose is probably the best place to be if you’re suffering. Physically speaking, child’s pose gently massages the abdomen and internal organs, stimulating blood circulation and removal of metabolic waste. It eliminates pressure on the neck and the head which may placate the effects of that last bottle of Port.
Sit in a kneeling position, with your knees wherever comfortable and your big toes touching. Sit on your heels and rest your forehead on the mat, letting your belly sink down. Your arms can be outstretched in front, or alongside your body.
2-3. Cat-Cow Pose (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana)
It’s useful to get moving a little when you’re feeling gorged - although not too much too fast. Transitioning between the cat-cow poses is a mellow, yet effective way to get the gears turning - leaving you feeling more replenished with every cycle.
Get down on all fours and take a deep breath in. As you exhale, tilt your pelvis under and allow your spine to round. Draw your belly button in, keeping your shoulders engaged and your hands pressed firmly into the mat. Welcome to Cat pose.
Inhale, reaching your tailbone up towards the ceiling, dropping your belly towards the floor and arching your spine. Look straight ahead, or if you're up to it, up above. This is Cow pose. Moving between these two poses with the breath stimulates your internal organs and gets the blood flowing around the body.
4. Upward Dog Pose (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
Upward Dog opens up the front of your body, stretching out your stomach and giving you some space to breath. It’s energising effects might be just what you need after too much sauce.
Lie face down on the mat, with your chin to the floor and hands placed under your shoulders. As you inhale, begin to press down, keeping your elbows tucked inand your shoulders rolled back. Straighten your arms to lift you body, hips and thighs away from the mat. Press down with your arms and the tops of your feet.
5. Squat (Malasana)
Malasana is a match for overindulgence in all it’s forms. As well as encouraging bowel movement, it gently massages the liver, helping it carry out a sterling job of removing toxins.
Come up to a standing position with your feet about hip width apart. As you exhale, bend your knees deeply, brining your hips towards your heels. Separate your thighs, and bring your upper body in-between. If possible, keep the whole of your foot in contact with the ground. If you wish, bring your palms together, pressing the elbows against your inner thighs for a deeper pose.
6. Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
The fiery effects of chair pose get the blood moving around the body, stimulate the internal organs and inspires your systems to come back to life!
From a standing position, inhale and bring your arms overhead. As you exhale, bend your knees so that your thighs are close to parallel with the floor. Lean forward ever so slightly, imagining you are sitting down in a chair. Draw your shoulder blades back and look up between your hands.
7. Half Spinal Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
Twists are the king of digestive aids, but take it steady if you want to avoid being reacquainted with the turkey or nut roast (#vegan). Half spinal twists vitalises the digestive system and internal organs, getting everything moving in the right direction.
Sit in a seated position with your legs outstretched in front. Bend your right leg, placing the foot on the outside of your thigh. Bring the left elbow against the outside of your right knee, bringing your right fingertips behind you for support. As you inhale, elongate your spine, sit tall and draw your shoulder back. As you exhale, deepen the twist, perhaps turning your head but ensuring your sitting bones remain grounded. To release, perform these actions in reverse order. Repeat on the other side.
8. Knees to Chest Pose (Apanasana)
This should be your go-to to alleviate nausea and that bloated feeling. The digestive system, particularly the colon, is given some love here - which should bring you one step closer to recovery.
Lie on your back, bringing both knees to your chest. Take hold of your shins, or hug your knees, applying a gentle pressure. Play with shifting the position of your tailbone and your knees.
9. Reclined Goddess Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)
This is everything you’ve been waiting for. Ultimate relaxation for the body and mind. Bask in the restorative effects of reclined goddess. Be a goddess if you so wish.
Lay back on your mat with your knees bent. Bring the soles of your feet together and let your knees fall out to the sides. Reach both arms overhead and grab opposite elbows with each hand. Completely surrender to the pose.