Now that we’ve reached December it’s that time of year for events filled with indulgent food, drink and desserts that taste amazing… but don’t always leave your digestive system feeling amazing.
There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself during this time. Especially when many traditional cakes and dishes only make an appearance on these special December occasions. You want to make them most of it!
But, how do you deal with the uncomfortable stomach that results from indulging in these rich, tasty treats?
This is where yoga can help you with a few simple stretches for digestion. These poses can help to massage the internal organs of the digestive system and can help to relieve the discomfort from a bloated, cramped stomach.
Here are 5 easy yoga poses you can try anytime your digestion needs some healing this December:
1. Sukhasana (easy pose)
This pose, usually seen as cross-legged (which isn’t always so easy), can be done in any comfortable seated position. You could have your legs out in front, your knees up or sit on your knees. It can also help to sit up on a cushion or yoga block, if you have one. This helps to lengthen your spine and create more space in your body.
As you sit up in the pose, practice deep breathing from the belly. This will help to relax your nervous system ready for digestion. Deep breathing can help to activate your parasympathetic nervous system (AKA your ‘rest and digest’ mode) which is exactly what we want our body to be doing after a big meal.
2. Seated Spinal Twist
Twists are always popular digestion poses because they can help to bring fresh blood flow to your digestive organs to kickstart their function.
From your seated pose or sukhasana pose, gently turn the body to the right. You can place your left hand to your right knee and place your right right behind the right hip. Hold the pose for 3-5 deep breaths then return to centre and repeat on your left side. If you feel you can go deeper in the pose, you can twist further to look past the shoulder of the side you are twisting towards.
This pose is actually two poses you flow between. You start in a table top position (on all fours with hands under shoulders and knees under your hips). Then inhale as you allow your belly to drop towards the floor and lift your head and neck to face forward (cow). As you breath out slowly drop your head and neck down and round your back (cat).
Aim to let your breath guide you through the pose and match the breath to the movement. Repeat at least five times or for five rounds of breath. By flowing through these poses it can help to compress and lengthen the intestines to aid healthy gut functioning for digestion.
4. Puppy pose
I like to describe this pose as a cross between a table top pose and a child’s pose. If that means nothing to you, an easier explanation is start in a table top position or ‘all fours’ with your knees stacked under your hips and wrists under shoulders. Bring your arms as far forward as you can, like the two women in the photo. Allow the head and chest to drop down to the floor and leave the hips up high stacked over the knees.
This pose can help your digestion by giving your stomach a stretch to relieve some tightness and cramping. Hold the pose for 3-5 breaths and you can always finish with a child’s pose after by sitting the hips down towards the feet.
5. Knees to chest
This pose can be done lying on your bed. You just need to be somewhere where you can lie flat on your back. There are a few variations to try here. You could hug both knees towards your chest and gently rock side to side. You could also come into a supine twist, like the one pictured. Allow the knees to fall over to one side of your body and turn your head the other direction. Hold for a few breaths and then repeat for the other side.
For a deeper stretch, I like to take one knee at a time towards the chest and then stretch it over towards the armpit. You take hold of the shin with both hands and breath as you hold for a few seconds. Make sure to repeat on the other side too. In Sanskrit this pose is called ‘Pavanmuktasana’ which literally translates to ‘wind relieving pose.’ So, I think that sums up the purpose/benefits of this pose for your digestion!
Want more yoga tips like this?
Grab a copy of the free beginner’s yoga guide I created below. It will answer FAQ about yoga and give you the starting point you need to get into a yoga practice that works for you and your body!