Yoga poses to help when you’ve eaten too much
Stuffed full of Christmas cheer (or is that pudding)? We can all overindulge at this time of year, so we’ve rounded up super easy yoga poses to help us feel a teensy bit less like Violet in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on Christmas Day and more like Misty Copeland having a golden moment on stage. Whip these moves out after lunch and watch your nanna’s eyes pop out! Better yet, get the whole family involved.
“All yoga poses are great for digestion” says Amy Leonard from Yoga Corner in Melbourne. “But the following can specifically help to improve digestion along with other amazing benefits including strength, balance, calming stress and anxiety, increasing circulation and decreasing depression.”
1. Balasana – Child’s Pose
HOW TO: Kneel on a mat and sit back on your heels, then lean over your legs, putting your head on the mat, reaching your hands out in front.
HOW IT HELPS: Folding over your body is great for a gentle organ massage and stimulation of the digestive system. This is an extremely calming pose and is a good one for when you’re stressed or can’t sleep at night. Take five to ten breaths here.
2. Supta Virasana – Hero Pose
HOW TO: Kneel on a mat, then widen your ankles and sit your hips down between the heels. Keep the knees together and make sure there’s no pain in the knee joint. If this is comfortable, begin leaning back onto your hands. Then elbows, and eventually all the way back with your arms overhead if you can. If you stop at the hands or at the elbows, that’s fine too. If your knees hurt, skip this pose.
HOW IT HELPS: It’s great for tired legs at the end of a big day or night, and reduces bloating via the stretch in the upper body. Leaning back creates space in the front of the body. This space allows food to move more freely through the digestive tract.
3. Padangusthasana – Standing Forward Fold
HOW TO: Stand feet hip width apart and fold forward from the hips. Bend the knees as required to keep the spine long. Take hold of the big toes with the first two fingers, (or hold shins, behind calves or wherever you can reach to hold on), and use this grip to draw the body deeper over the legs.
HOW IT HELPS: Forward folds help to strengthen the digestive process. It’s a gentle inversion which takes pressure off the organs (reverses the effects of gravity) and allows more circulation through the organs. This circulation creates stimulation, again moving food through the intestines more freely.
4. Trikonasana – Triangle Pose
HOW TO: Stand with legs about a metre apart (or wider if you’re tall), point your front foot at 90 degrees, rotate the back foot slightly inwards. Stretch the arms out from shoulder height and lean sideways from the waist, reaching forward with the front arm down to your front foot. Your back arm is straight up in the air. Hold for five breaths.
HOW IT HELPS: Standing postures are great for building heat in the body, and this internal heat fires up the digestive system. A triangle pose creates a gentle twist through the spine and torso. The twisting stimulates, massages, and eases the digestive tract, encouraging processes of elimination.
5. Parvritta Vishvavajrasana – Double Diamond Twist
HOW TO: Lie down and bring the right knee into the chest, draw it over to the left side and breathe. Hold the knee down with the same arm and stretch the other arm out to the side. Turn your head to the opposite side of your leg. Hold for five to ten breaths. Repeat on the other side.
HOW IT HELPS: Twists are most commonly associated with aiding digestion via the “wringing out” action created through the torso and more specifically the abdominal organs. The twisting action creates a compression through the abdominal organs. Then when they’re released they create a fresh rush of oxygenated blood through the digestive organs.
6. Viparita Kirani (gentle inversion)
HOW TO: Lie on your back and put both of your legs straight up the wall. If you want to, put a cushion under your hips to create more elevation to increase the inversion. This is a lovely pose you can hold for up to five minutes.
HOW IT HELPS: This pose is great for calming and restoring energy, perfect for those having trouble sleeping.
Inversions give your intestines a break from the effects of gravity. They realign your insides and help get things moving inside your system. Inversions also increase the effectiveness of the lymphatic system, which aids the detoxification process and eliminates what no longer needs to be in the body. They increase circulation, and an advanced pose like a headstand is more active than a legs up the wall, so it’s an energising pose. Blood being drawn more easily from the heart to the brain is extremely energising.
Sirsasana – Headstand (advanced inversion)
Headstands are an advanced posture with delicate alignment and core strength required. If you don’t know exactly what you’re doing, it’s best to practice this one with the supervision of your yoga teacher. Doing a headstand is recommended two to three hours after a big lunch so wait a while if you want to give it a go.
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