Holiday Bloat? We’ve Got a Practice Designed for Your Digestive System

Hungry for more yoga? Practice with Donovan McGrath at Wanderlust Hollywood or Wanderlust O’ahu


It’s the holiday season and we’re certainly not the sort of people to say no to second helpings of vegan mashed potatoes. That being said, the bountiful amounts of nourishment this time of year can do a number on your tummy tracks. To combat bloat and discomfort (and give us the confidence to eat as much pumpkin pie as we please) we asked Amplified Yoga founder Donovan McGrath for his favorite post-holiday practice.

Combining breathwork, traditional vinyasa, and Kundalini, this practice is simple enough for the whole family, with the exception of anyone in the middle of pregnancy. We suggest implementing this practice the morning after a day of feasting, or, if you’re not in too much food coma, before bedtime. Listen to your body before practicing—even if though these poses are designed to for your digestive system, they may not be super fun right after a huge dinner. Note: Pregnant mamas should avoid Breath of Fire and any pose where the stomach makes contact with the floor.

The Sufi Grind

Get things moving with this favorite from Kundalini yoga: The Sufi Grind. Also known as the Sufi Om, this pose is a gentle way to fire up the digestive tracks without putting stress on the rest of the body.

To practice: Sit in an easy pose, cross legged position. Place both hands on the knees. Begin rotating the spine in a big circle, keeping the head upright. Inhale as you circle forward across the knees and exhale as you circle back.

Breath of Fire

You’ve probably practiced breath of fire at the beginning of a few yoga classes—now it’s time to make it part of your post-feast routine. It’s a great way to calm the mind amidst holiday chaos while simultaneously stimulating the rest of the body out of any food-induced lethargy. Various traditional yoga scriptures claim that practicing breath of fire increases digestive power, eliminates diseases, and cleanses energy pathways.

To practice: Sit in a comfortable position and lengthening the spine up toward the crown. Take sharp breaths in and out through the nose, keeping the mouth closed. Breathe as forcefully and as quickly as possible and comfortable for your body. Beginners might start with 30 seconds while more advanced practitioners can go for longer. Once finished, take a few moments to sit and allow the breath to return to normal.

Shalambasana Variation

Locust pose, or Shalambasana variation, is said to stimulate the navel point and distribute energy throughout the rest of the body. Stimulating the navel point is a shortcut to aiding digestion, meaning once you activate this part of the body, you’re more likely to get the rest of you moving and flowing.

To Practice: Lie on your stomach and form both hands into fists. Place your fists beneath the pelvis, just inside the hip bones and at the tops of the thighs. Lift the legs and place the chin on the ground—this is where we differ from traditional Shalambasana. Enjoy deep, long, and slow inhales and exhales for 1 to 3 minutes. Lower the legs and face to the ground and allow the breath to return to normal.

Balasana Variation

We all adore Child’s Pose, but did you know this iconic state of rest is also great for your digestive system? Yup, entering a forward bend with slight compression can be really delicious for your digestive fires, as it helps release abdominal constriction and allows those lower body muscles to slip into some much needed, post-stuffing relaxation.

To practice: Come into hands and knees. Begin to press back into traditional balasana, but pause partway to place your fists against your belly. Fold over your thighs and take about 2 minutes of deep, long breaths.

Malasana

Whoever invented the Squatty Potty clearly ripped the idea from Malasana. This low and gentle squat is the antidote to any post-family feast. It’s designed for easy elimination and the perfect, most comfortable way to end this gut-focused practice.

To practice: Start by standing with your feet slightly wider than your hips. Turn the heels in and your toes out, pointing your knees in the same direction as your toes. Drop into a full squat (you can add a black under your hips if you feel a strain in your knees). Place your hands onto the floor for support or snuggle your triceps into the inside of your thighs and place your palms together. The more you press your hands together, the more of a hip-opener this pose becomes.

What are your favorite poses post a holiday meal? Tell us in the comments below!

Amanda Kohr is the Senior Content Editor at Wanderlust. You can find her exploring new highways, drinking diner coffee, and on Instagram

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