It can be tempting to curl up on couch after a large, decadent holiday meal. However, doing mindful movement after you eat sets up your body to move food along and keep you comfortable. Try these six yoga poses to help stimulate digestion and detoxification.
Why Twists? Twists are great nourishing and detoxifying poses to help aid digestion. Twists help massage abdominal organs and stimulate Agni, or digestive fire. Your body’s Agni allows you to digest food efficiently, and absorb essential nutrients from your food, according to Ayurveda. By gently twisting your body after a large meal, you encourage fresh blood to flow to your digestive organs. Twists can feel slightly uncomfortable right after eating, so be sure to twist slowly and gently.
How to do them: There are many yoga poses that are considered twists. Below are examples of a seated and supine variation.
Ardha Matysendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose): Sit comfortably with your legs extended straight in front of you. Bend your right knee into your chest and place your right foot on the outer edge of your left thigh. Wrap your left arm around your right knee as you slowly begin to open your torso toward your right. Place your right hand at the base of your spine with your fingers facing the back of your mat. The twist should occur within your thoracic spine, which is the upper area of your spine. Ensure you draw your right shoulder blade down your back as you slowly twist your torso. Eventually, gently gaze over your right shoulder. While in this twist, press your sit bones into the ground and draw the crown of your head to the sky. Repeat on the left side.
Supta Matsyendrasana (Supine Spinal Twist): Lie down on your back with your legs extended straight. Open your arms perpendicular to your body so your body makes an uppercase “T.” Draw your right knee into your chest; then gently draw your right knee over your body and release it down on the left side of your body. Gently turn your head to the right. Ensure both shoulders stay rooted to the ground. Hold for a few deep breaths. Repeat on the left side.
Uttanasana – Standing Forward Fold
Why Uttanasana? Uttanasana is one of the most therapeutic yoga poses for the body. This pose boasts a full list of benefits, one of the main ones being that this pose helps to improve digestion. This deep forward fold is a great pose to compress the abdominal area while stimulating circulation to your digestive organs. Uttanasana is also calming to your nervous system and provides your upper body an opportunity to fully relax.
How to do it: Start standing with your feet about hips distance apart and both feet firmly pressing into the ground. Ensure your weight is distributed evenly between both feet. Inhale your arms to the sky and slowly exhale as you forward fold. You can rest your hands on the floor if they can reach comfortably. You can also reach for the backs of your thighs or for opposite elbows with your hands. Release all tension in your neck and allow your head, neck, and upper torso to completely relax. Close your eyes and hold for a few deep breaths. Place your hands on your hips and slowly inhale as you rise to a standing position while engaging your abdominals as you rise.
Marjariasana and Bitilasana – Cat/Cow Pose
Why Marjariasana and Bitilasana? By doing Marjariasana and Bitilasana, or Cat/Cow Pose, you are stretching and contracting the abdominal organs and encouraging movement in your digestive system while creating space in your abdomen.