The holidays can pose a challenge. A digestive challenge. Even the most yogic of yogis out there find it hard to resist all the yummy treats being served up this time of year. But, never fear! Yoga postures (and some digestive enzymes) are your friends, and can do wonders to energize your digestion, so you can cruise through the holidays with ease.
This is a really feel-good movement. Start on all fours. On an inhale, round the spine upwards, tuck the chin in towards the chest, and tuck the tailbone. Exhale, turn the tailbone up, lower the stomach, and lift the head. Repeat about 10 times, or however many times you feel.
Many cultures around the world use the squatting position for pooping. We sit on a porcelain throne, and sit in chairs all day. The colon never quite gets the benefit of these deeper stretches unless we integrate them into our lives somehow. So, squat away, my friends! If the bottoms of your feet don’t settle easily on the floor, roll up a blanket underneath your heels. Breathe deeply, and stay here from 2-5 minutes.
In Yin Yoga, this pose is called Saddle, and it directly effects the stomach meridian, which runs along the front of the legs, into the abdomen. You may with to start with half saddle, with one leg straightened. It’s good to start with a pillow or a blanket to lean back onto. You want to experience a nice resting pose, where you feel the stretch, but you aren’t using any effort to stay there. In full saddle, the arms are extended above the head. Stay in this pose and breathe deeply for 2-5 minutes.
This posture also effects the stomach meridian, as well as helps to stretch the fascia deep in the hips. In this two-part pose, start with one leg bent in front of you and the other leg extended behind, with the top of the foot on the floor. Place your hands on the floor at you sides and rise the rib cage out of the pelvis, tucking the tailbone slightly. This is a small back bend. Open the chest, and take some deep breaths. Slowly, leading with your heart start to walk the hands forward in front of you until you come to rest with your head on you hands. Yes, this pose is intense. Focus on your breath and stay here from 1-5 minutes each side.
Downward Facing Dog
Because this is the best pose in the whole world! And it feels amazing after the intensity of pigeon.
Sit with your heels together, and knees apart. You may want to roll up a blanket or use a block underneath the knees for support. I’m reclining in this picture on my bolster, but you could use a few blankets, pillows, or blocks. The intention is a passive back bend. This passive stretch coupled with deep breathing gives our digestive system some extra space to do it’s job. If you have neck issues, make sure to roll up a blanket or use an extra pillow to support the neck.
The ultimate internal organ massage. Hold each side for at least a minute to receive full benefits. Take full, deep, belly breaths. If your knees don’t touch the floor, place a blanket or a block underneath, so you still feel a supported stretch. Your opposite shoulder blade should stay on the floor. Complete the spinal twist by turning your head in the opposite direction to your knees.
Because maybe, just maybe, those foods didn’t combine so well. Namaste.
Wishing you a wonderful, chill, holiday season!
By Brenna Moore, Licensed Massage Therapist, Kona, Big Island, Hawai’i
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