Ring in the new year and recover from heavy eating with these three poses!
by Mara Paas, a yoga instructor in Aspen, Colorado … She aspires to be outrageously happy and spend as much time as possible surfing exotic breaks and drinking fabulous wine with good company.
After the holidays and lots of heavy eating, we could all use a few recovery poses. Do these three yoga poses to ring in the new year refreshed!
Pavanamuktasana: Wind Removing Pose
Do the Yoga Pose: After eating copious amounts of turkey, stuffing, and pie, lay fat on your back on the floor. Palms face up, stomach bloated, for post-Holiday Savasana. From Savasana, or corpse pose, lift your right leg bending your knee in towards your chest. Interlace all 10 fingers about two inches down from the top of your knee. As you exhale draw the knee out and down, into your shoulder. Avoid your ribcage. Keep both of your elbows in close to your body and relax your shoulders flat to the floor. Tuck your chin into your chest, lengthening the back of your neck and stimulating the thyroid and pituitary glands. Your left leg extends flat on the floor. Play with flexing and relaxing your foot to get into the hamstring and calf muscle. Deep belly breathe, allowing the rising and falling of the abdomen to massage the ascending colon and other internal organs.
Repeat to the left side allowing the breath to massage the descending colon. The last stage of this pose is to inhale both knees into your check and grab onto opposite elbows. As your knees pull into your chest relax your each vertebra onto the floor from your neck to your tail bone, massaging your transverse colon. You may have to tilt your hips slightly to get your tailbone to relax towards the floor.
Modifications: If you have tight hips or are just really bloated you may not be able to interlace the fingers to the webbing or grasp the elbows. Grab the forearms, wrists, or fingers instead if the elbows are not an option.
Benefits: Wind Removing Pose does exactly as it sounds; it helps to cure and prevent most chronic abdominal discomforts such as gas and bloating. It also improves the flexibility of the hip joints, stretches the shoulders, all while strengthening the biceps and hand muscles. The thyroid compression improves the immune system and revs up the metabolism. Laying flat on the floor stretches the entire backside of the spine, creating space between your vertebra and releasing the pressure from sitting and standing all day.
Matsyasana: Fish Pose
Begin in Dandasana, a seated position with both legs straight out before you. Place a bolster or folded blanket behind you where the bottom of your shoulder blades will be when you lie back on the floor. Bring the soles of your feet together as close into your groin as is comfortable. Press your palms into your thighs as you slowly lie back. Use your elbows as support on the floor as your gently arch your back, opening your heart and throat chakras. Allow the crown of your head to relax on the floor or onto a blanket if the pressure is bothersome.
Stay in this position for 10 deep slow breathes and allow your heart to slowly open. To come out of the pose, contract your abdominals, bring your chin into your chest, and push into your elbows rising back to seated position.
Modifications: This pose may be done with or without the bolster. For longer holds, five minutes or longer, a bolster is advisable as this way your body can melt into the pose rather than fighting against gravity. For beginners this pose may be done with legs straight out in front of the body. For advanced students bring your legs into full lotus gripping your big toes with your first and second fingers.
Benefits: This pose opens the heart, lungs, back, and abdomen while strengthening the core. It also flushes toxins from the spinal column, thyroid, and joints in your knees and hips.
Ardha Matsyendrasana: Seated Twist (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose)
Sit in Dandasana, with both legs stretched out before you. Sit on a small folded blanket or fold over your mat which will tilt your hips into perfect alignment. Using your hands behind you for support, bend both knees so your feet are flat on the floor. Side the edge of your left foot under the right so that your foot is on the outside of your right hip and your knee is flat on the floor. Inhale the right leg up and over the grounded knee so that your right foot is flat against the floor just to the outside of your left knee.
Keeping your right palm flat against the floor at the base of your spine, inhale your left arm up and over your right knee, look over your sholder. Exhale as you contract the abdominal wall and press your elbow into your knee, twist. Each inhalation, lengthen the spine and each exhalation try to see a bit further behind you. Be sure to evenly distribute the twist through your spine to not strain the lower back. Hold for 5 deep slow breaths then release when an exhalation to the starting position. Repeat to the left for the same number of breaths to balance and flush the spinal column.
Modifications: If having one knee bent flat against the floor puts too much pressure on the knee joint, you may keep that leg long and straight in front of you. To go deeper wrap your left arm through the hold of the bent upper leg and reach around with your right arm to clasp your fingers and complete the bind.
Benefits: This pose massages your abdominal organs and flushes toxins from your kidneys and liver. It also stimulates the spinal column which in turn increases brain function. This is a great pose to release hip and back pain and combats the generic seated position of the everyday office life.