Turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie..these are just a few of the staple dishes we give thanks for every year. They represent this great earth's bounty, and you make room on your plate to taste each dish, savoring the season's blessings. But afterward, in a post-feast stupor, you regret eating so much that your insides feel twice as large as they did before.
Don't despair! Do your body a favor this Thanksgiving and take advantage of these four yoga poses to help digest that delicious meal. Then you'll have four more things to be truly grateful for.
Seated Twist (Maricyasana)
You just ate a big meal, so start out gently! Help relieve abdominal discomfort with a seated twist. Sit on the floor and extend your right leg out long. Bend the left leg, bringing the knee in toward the chest. Place your right hand behind you and twist to the right. Eventually, bring your left elbow inside of the right knee to deepen the twist. After several rounds of breathing, come out of the twist and do the same for the other side. Seated twist gives your abdominal muscle a nice massage and helps your large intestine move things along.
Garland Pose (Malasana)
Squats are an excellent way to help relieve any gas or bloating you may be experiencing. For a gentler version of Garland pose, roll up a towel and place it under your heels. Next, bring your feet out wide and angle your toes out to the external corners of your mat (in opposite directions from one another). Bring hands into prayer pose and lower your hips to the floor. Press your elbows into your thighs and feel the stretch in your groin muscles and core.
Locust Pose (Salabhasana)
To alleviate indigestion or constipation, the abdominal pressure from locust pose can be of help. Lie facedown on the floor and interlace your fingers behind you. On your next inhale, push back through the hands and lift your chest up off of the ground. Squeeze the buttocks firmly and hold your thighs in tight. The tops of your feet should remain on the floor. Hold for at least 30 seconds and when you come out of the pose you should feel lighter.
Agnisar Kriya Pranayama
If you have a chance to sneak off to another room in privacy, practice Agnisar Kriya Pranayama. This breathing technique is beneficial to relieving constipation and improves digestion. Find a comfortable seated position on the floor. Take a big inhale to max capacity as you contract the anus muscles up toward the large intestines.
Exhale slowly and—with breath held with empty lungs—pull the navel inward and release. Repeat this motion over and over as long as you can hold your breath. Release and inhale once more, repeating as long as it feels good on the body. The swinging motion of the abdominal wall soothes the internal muscles and moves consumed food through the digestive system.