It can be very easy to overindulge in a meal, especially during a holiday feast, and then feel puffy and bloated afterwards due to slow digestion or indigestion. Aside from bloating, you could also experience acid reflux. Whatever the cause of your abnormal digestion is, one thing is for sure—it does not feel good. Now, instead of flopping back on the couch or taking Tums, you can try a natural way to address this problem and get things moving and flowing normally. The following yoga poses and sequences will give you relief after a huge meal and help improve your digestion.
1. Adho Mukha Svanasana or the Downward-Facing Dog
To do this, come into the Plank Pose to set up your feet and hands, and then place your feet outer-hip-distance apart and hands shoulder-distance apart. Press your hips up and back using your core and broaden your back by spreading your shoulders wide and bending your knees slightly to lengthen your spine. Holding the position, take some deep breaths into your stomach, pulling your navel up and in towards the back of your heart every time you exhale to provide nourishment to your intestines.
2. Setu Bandha Saravangasana or the Bridge Pose
This pose is a great backbend performed to compress the organs of digestion, while simultaneously relieving any fatigue that might be caused by poor digestion and delivering fresh blood to your heart. To enter such a sequence, place your feet flat on the floor in a way that it will be as close to your sitting bones as possible. Exhale and press your inner arms and feet into the floor while you stretch your knees forward, and then take ten deep breaths and slowly roll your spine down for release. If your thighs are feeling tired, you can modify this pose by placing a block beneath your sacrum to get a more passive backbend.
3. Marjaryasana-Bitilasana or the Cat-Cow
To begin, bring your knees beneath your hips and hands beneath your shoulders, and then inhale as you drop your navel towards the floor and lift your heart and hips up. Spread across your sitting bones and shoulders, and then exhale as you round your upper back up in the Cow Pose, dropping your gaze to your belly button and pressing your feet and hands into the earth in the Cat Pose. Continue the sequence for ten rounds, while breathing deeply in these poses to massage your organs as you alternately lengthen and compress your intestines, bringing fresh blood to your epithelial cells that are responsible for healthy bowel function.
4. Trikonasana or the Triangle Pose
Step your right foot forward into a low lunge and straighten it, and then walk your left foot forward about six inches and turn it at an angle of about 45-60 degrees to the front of the mat in a way that your heel will be flat on the floor. Gently rest your right hand on your right shin or the mat, and then lift your left hand up with your palm facing outward. Reach your tailbone towards your left heel and stretch the crown of your head forward. Hold the Utthita Trikonasana pose for about a minute before moving to the Pavrtta Trikonasana pose, and then switch sides.
5. Savasana or the Corpse Pose
In this pose, both your knees are brought back into your chest to neutralize your spine and create a compression that will help with elimination by stimulating your transverse colon. Then, straighten your legs gently to the ground and rest your palms’ faces next to your hip bones. Perform natural breathing as you relax all of your muscles. It is believed that quieting the mind using poses, such as the Savasana, is very important as it calms your nervous system. As you can see, relaxation will counterbalance stress and thus help address causes of digestive discomfort and alleviate symptoms.
6. Uttana Shishosana or the Extended Puppy Pose
This sequence requires you to come onto your knees and hands like you are going to perform the Cat-Cow Pose. Then, keep your hips where they are and walk your hands forward. Release your head onto the mat, allowing gravity to open your heart. The benefit of this pose is that it stretches your abdomen to relieve cramps after having a large meal.
7. Parivrtta Trikonasana or the Revolved Triangle Pose
Release your left hand down and then level your hips by dropping your left hip down to become parallel with your right. Keeping your legs strong and stable, lift your right arm in a way that the palm faces away from your body. This pose compresses and subsequently releases your colon, stimulating the movement of accumulated toxins that are trapped inside your body. If you have an inflammatory bowel disease, it is advised to proceed with caution, as it might cause undesired wringing of your organs.
8. Supta Matsyendrasana or the Supine Twist
From the Half Gas Release Pose, release your right knee to your left while stretching your right arm out to your right. To get a deeper stretch, you can use your left hand to push your right knee gently closer to the floor or take such hand to your outer right foot and then extend your leg straight out. You can relish in this deep and releasing twist as long as it feels good.
9. Ardha Pawamuktasana or the Half Gas Release Pose
This pose compresses your descending colon on the left side and your ascending colon on the right side, stimulating the nerves that help elimination. To perform this pose, hug your right knee towards the right side of your ribcage, while pressing your straight left leg into the floor and clasping your hands around your right shin. Hold the pose for about 1-2 minutes and then repeat on your other side.
With a combination of stretches that target abdominal organs, deep breathing and twists that will massage and wring out stuck undigested food in your stomach and intestinal toxins, the yoga poses and sequences listed above will help relieve a wide range of digestive discomforts—constipation, gas, bloating, etc.—that you are experiencing. What’s more, these figures will also give you more energy!