It’s holiday time, which means the season of stuffing ourselves with rich foods in greater quantities has begun. How many times have you come back from a holiday party with a stomach ache after thinking it was okay to eat salami and crackers, spicy salsa, and a glass of eggnog in one sitting? Whether your indigestion comes from strange food combinations, eating rich food, or just overeating, it’s always a painful process that involves plenty of moaning and feeling helpless.
Rather than popping a laxative, which can incur major side effects like bloating, cramping, diarrhea, and dehydration, get your digestive tract moving naturally. You have the tools inside your body to beat digestion troubles. Yoga combines deep breathing, stretches that massage your organs, and twists that wring out intestinal toxins. These poses can be done daily as part of your routine or you can bust them out after a giant holiday feast.
Cat-Cow Pose (Marjariasana)
This pose massages your abdominal organs to stimulate your digestive and reproductive systems. To start, get on your hands and knees checking to make sure that your hips are over your knees and your palms are beneath your shoulders. On an exhale, lower your head and look towards your belly button as you round your back. As you inhale, arch your back and lift your chest, pulling your shoulders back. Look forward and tighten your stomach muscles. Repeat this several times and enjoy the release in your lower back.
Gas Release Pose (Pawamuktasana)
The name of this pose says it all. It compresses your ascending and descending colon to stimulate the nerves and aid in digestion. This pose presses on the abdomen to release any trapped gas in the large intestine and relieves constipation. Lying on your back, bring both knees to your chest and wrap your arms around your shins. Pull your knees toward your chest and bring your chin toward your knees. Hold this pose and release before repeating. You can also bring one leg toward the chest at a time to stimulate one side of your colon at a time.
Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Even if you’ve never stepped foot in a yoga class, you may know the name of this yoga staple. The downward-facing dog pose actually compresses your kidneys, liver, and spleen which aids in digestion. As you’re in the pose, pull your belly button towards your spine for abdominal compression. To get into this pose, come into plank and ensure your hands are stacked under your shoulders and your feet are hips-width apart. Using your core, press your hips up and back, so your hips are in the air while your hands and feet push into the floor. If you have tight hamstrings you can bend the knees and stretch out the back of the legs.
Revolved Triangle Pose (Parivrtta Trikonasana)
This is the natural opposite stretch for Triangle Pose and even though this can be a tough one, the digestion results are impressive. This twisting pose massages your organs to get your juices flowing. Breathing deeply while holding this pose will help cleanse and purify your inner organs. With your right leg forward in Triangle Pose, take your right hand from your right shin and stretch it toward the ceiling as you take your left hand to your right shin. To go deeper you can bring your left hand outside your right foot. Hold this pose for one minute before switching sides.
Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)
This pose not only stretches out your legs and alleviates back tension, but it helps improve digestion as it tones the pelvic organs. There is a slight twist, which helps get the food in your stomach moving. Step your right foot 3-4 feet in front of the left. Your right foot should be facing forward, while your left foot can slightly face out. Both feet should be fully on the ground with legs straight. Reach your right hand and rest it on your right shin, keeping your legs straight. Reach your left hand toward the ceiling. If you have the balance, look toward your left hand to get a nice twist in your lower back and internal organs. Hold for one minute before switching sides.
Extended Puppy Pose (Uttana Shishosana)
This pose is the perfect way to relax after the challenging triangle poses. This pose may seem easy, but it stretches out the front of your body giving your belly a long stretch that relieves cramps from overeating. Start on your hands and knees making sure your hands and shoulders are aligned as well as your hips and knees. Keeping your hips directly over your knees, walk your hands forward so that your forehead or chin can rest on the floor. Make sure your hips aren’t too far forward or too far back.
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