A Yoga Sequence to Ease Discomfort When You're Overstuffed
If you need a little relief after enjoying your huge holiday feast, instead of plopping on the couch and chewing on some Tums, try this relaxing yoga sequence to get things flowing and moving naturally.
Standing Forward Bend Pose
A calming pose to begin with, forward bends like this one massage your internal organs and increase circulation.
- Begin in Mountain Pose at the front of your mat. Inhale and reach your arms straight above you.
- As you exhale, engage your abs, and fold forward with a straight back. Tuck your chin in toward your chest, relax your shoulders, and extend the crown of the head toward the floor to create a long spine. Shift weight forward into your toes, straightening the legs as much as possible. Place your hands on the ground, fingertips lining up with the toes.
- Hold here for five breaths.
Extended Wide Squat
Coming into this pose can be pretty intense when you feel bloated postmeal, but it can help with uncomfortable intestinal gas.
- Separate your feet a little wider, bend the knees, and breathe out as you lower into a Wide Squat.
- Release your hands to the floor, and walk them out in front of you, allowing the belly to fall between the knees.
- Stay here for five deep breaths.
Downward Facing Dog Pose
Downward Facing Dog brings the body into alignment and relaxes your gastrointestinal tract.
- Come onto the hands and knees with your wrists underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips.
- Inhale as you tuck your toes under your heels. Then exhale to lift your hips, coming into the classic upside down "V" shape called Downward Facing Dog.
- Spread your fingers wide, and create a straight line between your middle fingers and elbows. Work on straightening your legs and lowering your heels toward the ground. Relax your head between your arms, and direct your gaze through your legs or up toward your belly button.
- Breathe deeply for five breaths.
Open Revolved Extended Side Angle
This variation of Revolved Extended Side Angle allows for a deep relaxing twist.
- From Down Dog, take a breath in as you step the right foot forward between the hands. Lower your left palm to the floor beside your right foot.
- Exhale to reach your right arm behind you, opening your palm toward the ceiling. Really lean your weight into the left hand, and allow your right shoulder to drift back as much as possible to deepen the stretch.
- Hold this position, breathing into the pose for five breaths.
One-Legged Seated Spinal Twist
Strala Yoga founder Tara Stiles agrees that twists get things moving and improve circulation, and here's a simple one.
- From Open Revolved Extended Side Angle, inhale as you bring the left knee forward behind the right foot and sit down. Exhale to cross your left elbow over to the outside of the right knee, and press the right palm into the floor behind you. Look over your right shoulder.
- As you breathe, continue to deepen the twist. Stay here for five breaths.
This stretch creates space in your stuffed torso, which can ease abdominal cramps.
- Sit on your shins with your knees hip-width apart.
- Inhale to put both hands on your hips, and exhale to gently arch back, just beginning to warm up your lower back and quads.
- When you're ready, reach your right hand back toward your right heel and then your left toward your left heel. Your hands are there for balancing support, so don't lean all your weight into them. Shift weight forward into your knees to increase the stretch you feel in your belly and chest.
- Lower your head behind you, and stay here for five breaths.
Forward bends like Butterfly are perfect poses to subtly relieve pains from digestion.
- Sit on the floor with your heels together, knees out wide. Rest your hands on your feet.
- Inhale, keeping the spine long, and gently fold forward as you exhale. Press the elbows against the inner knees to open the hips further, which will help you get a deeper forward bend.
- Enjoy this pose for five deep breaths.
This pose focuses on stimulating your core and is an essential pose for healthy digestion.
- From Butterfly, inhale to lift the legs into the air, and bring your feet to touch. Balance on your tush with the knees bent, or if you can, straighten the legs. Keep the spine long without rounding the back.
- Hold for five complete breaths.
Seated forward bends like this one compress your abdominal muscles while massaging your colon. To get the most out of this pose, really engage your core and keep the belly active.
- Sit on the floor with your legs in a wide straddle position, lengthening through the spine with an inhale.
- Slowly hinge at your hips with an exhale, lowering your torso toward the floor. Fold as far as you need to feel a nice stretch in your back and hamstrings. Don't worry about folding your body completely in half, unless this is comfortable for you.
- Stay like this for five deep breaths.
Bow Pose is fantastic for aiding digestion and relieving constipation. This pose really stretches out your entire torso.
- Lie on your belly. Inhale to bend your knees, and hold onto the inside or outside edges of your ankles. Once you have a firm hold of each ankle, try to keep your toes together, either pointing or flexing your feet.
- Exhale as you lift your feet as high as you can, and shift weight forward, so you're resting on your naval instead of on the pubic bone.
- Hold for five deep breaths.
Bound Headstand Pose
It may sound counterintuitive to go upside down, but inversions are a yogi's best defense against digestion issues. Bound Headstand is an ideal pose to stimulate your abdominal muscles.
- Place your clasped fingers and head on the floor at the top of your mat. Straighten your legs, and walk your feet toward your head. Bend one knee, and tuck it into your chest. Using your abs and hamstring flexibility, lift the other leg off the floor so both knees are tucked into your chest, so you're in a pose called Bound Headstand Prep: Tuck.
- With complete control, inhale to slowly lift and straighten both legs up, coming into Bound Headstand. If balancing is hard, bend one knee and place the sole of your foot on a wall.
- Hold for five breaths. Then slowly bend your knees into your chest, and lower your feet to the floor.
Wide Child's Pose
Forward bending creates heat in the abdominal area to keep the digestive juices flowing, and if any of your belly woes are due to stress, this pose will help alleviate those worries.
- Kneel on your mat with your knees slightly wider that hip-width apart, with your big toes touching behind you. Take a deep breath in, and as you exhale, fold forward. Lengthen your neck and spine by drawing your ribs away from your tailbone and the crown of your head away from your shoulders.
- Rest your arms beside your legs, with palms facing up, or extend the arms out in front of you.
- Stay here for five to 10 breaths.
Knee to Chest
You may want to experiment with this pose in private — it's also known as the Wind-Relieving Pose.
- Roll onto your back, and inhale to hug the right knee in to your chest, and then rock your knee from side to side to help massage your abdominal organs and get things moving for a few breaths. Switch legs, hugging the left knee in.
- Then, hug both knees into the chest, rocking from side to side. Release the knees away from your belly, lowering the toes to the floor for a few seconds. Repeat a few more times.
Here's another relaxing twist you'll want to spend a little extra time in.
- After hugging the knees into the chest, inhale as you cross your right knee in front of your left knee. Wrap your left toes around the back of your right ankle, just like in Eagle Pose.
- Extend your arms out in cactus position with your elbows at right angles, palms facing up.
- Slowly lower both knees to the left with an exhale. Rest them on the ground, and turn your head to the right.
- Hold here for at least five breaths, feeling your spine lengthen and twist. You may even hear some "cracks."
- Use your abs to lift your knees back to center with an inhale. Exhale to uncross your legs, and inhale to cross them the opposite way, with your left knee on top. Exhale to slowly lower both knees to the right, looking over your left shoulder for another five breaths.
- Release and find your way into a Standing Forward Bend, and repeat this sequence on the left side.