The holidays are hard on our bodies and our stress levels. Staying balanced is key to coming back to reality in January without feeling guilt and shame over a month of binge eating and binge drinking without our regular fitness, yoga and wellness routines. I can be found guilty of this every single year. Each holiday season, my husband and I spend most of the time either on the road driving to a holiday party or salivating over cheese plates. While I always drag my yoga mat with me in hopes of hitting up a local yoga studio, the truth is… it never happens. Last year, I was so grateful for those quiet moments between festivities where I could roll out my yoga mat in my childhood bedroom to stretch (and digest) out my holiday gluttony. This year, I am sharing my beloved yin yoga for digestion routine with you.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, our stomach energy line is directly connected with feelings of anxiety and worry (common emotions that arise over the holidays). The wellness of our stomach energy line is directly impacted by the foods and drinks we consume. If we are suddenly consuming chocolates and cookies and so much gravy, instead of kale salads and grilled chicken, and we are no longer exercising, we can expect to feel anxious, worried, bloated and uncomfortably gassy over the holidays.
Try out my digestion friendly yin yoga sequence below while you are off celebrating the season and take care of your body, mind and soul this year. Enjoy the incredible benefits of stimulating your digestion system and maintaining healthy digestion. Compliment this practice with slow, mindful eating, 8-12 glasses of water a day, tips and meals from Healthy Meal Plan and you will not have to worry about the January body blues.
Easy Pose: Find a comfortable cross-legged seat on a cushion or your yoga mat. Soften your gaze down the ridge of your nose, turning your palms to face down on your thighs and lengthen your spine. Try Kapalbhati pranayama breathing here which is said to cure stomach ailments. Take a deep breath in through your nose and exhale with all of your force out through your nose sending your stomach in towards your spine. Continue forced exhalations allowing for natural inhalations at a medium speed for 5 minutes.
Butterfly Pose: Draw the soles of your feet together and find an equal distance between your inner knees from left to right and your heels and pelvis from front to back. Fold forward until you reach a comfortable edge, finding a stretch through your inner groin and your spine. Release all muscular force and surrender into the sensations as you gaze towards your naval and realign with you intention to take care of your digestion! This pose can help with urinary problems as it stimulates your kidneys.
Deer Pose: Known to relieve gas and improve digestion, start by sitting in butterfly on the floor. Shift your right leg behind your hip. Adjust your front leg by moving the foot away from you, ultimately creating a right angle with your front knee. Keep both sitting bones firmly rooted to the ground and uncover a stretch through your outer left hip. Remain here for 3-5 minutes before switching sides.
Saddle Pose: This backbend compresses the digestion organs and relieves fatigue triggered by digestion. Start seated on your heels in traditional hero pose. Using your hands to support you, begin to walk your torso back by any amount, stopping when you find a suitable stretch through the front of your thighs and your spine. Breath gently into your stomach for 3-5 minutes.
Reclining Twist: Gently lie down on your back. Extend both arms out to either side, bending at the elbows if necessary. Hug your knees in towards your chest and as you shift your hips out to the left, drop your bent knees to the right. Gaze in a comfortable direction for your neck. Readjust the height and stacking of your knees until you find a gentle stretch through your spine and the front of your thighs. Spinal twisting can massage your stomach and reduce gastritis. Rest here for 3-5 minutes.
Shavasana (Corpse Pose): Release your entire body onto your mat. Make any final fighting before resigning into complete stillness, lengthening your legs on the mat, turning your palms to face up and relaxing every last muscle in your body (including your mind!). Professor Chris Idzikowski of the Sleep Assessment and Advisory Service suggests that lying face down when you fall asleep can aid in digestion, so why not give it a try in shavasana?
If you have heart problems, high blood pressure or are pregnant, please advise your doctor before completing this practice. Immediately release from the pose if you feel painful sensations.
Photo Credits: Nathan White Photography.