It’s that time of year again; when a chocolate orange counts as one of your five a day, you begin to wonder how you functioned without 12 hours sleep every night (with an afternoon nap), and an elasticated waist is your go-to fashion item.
Safe to say that energy levels aren’t exactly at an all-time high. The days are short, the weather is cold, and comfort food is your friend. In fact, it’s your best friend. And you guys hang out. A lot. You spend time together at work, home, and at parties. (And that’s totally fine, because you enjoy every moment mindfully, totally guilt free and full of gratitude.)
Trouble is, gratitude isn’t what’s given you a belly to rival Buddha’s. As tempting as it is to roll yourself onto the closest soft furnishing, resolving to stay there until Spring, there are a few yoga poses you might like to try.
By gently moving the body you can give the digestive organs a bit of stimulation and help them to do what they do best. When you hold these poses for 1 or 2 minutes, you also help the body to settle into it’s natural ‘rest and digest’ state. Your parasympathetic nervous system kicks in, allowing your whole body to know it’s safe, secure and can relax.
And the more you can move, increase circulation, and create space in your abdomen, the more room you have to put more gorgeous goodies in.
Before you start gently go through a couple of rounds of your favourite type of sun salutation. But remember that this is all about be slow and steady!
Squished and Twisted.
Lie down. Bring both knees up into your chest. Take a little roll around from side to side. (Health warning: This one is known as ‘wind relieving pose’. Just saying.) Pause there. Let both knees drop down to the left. Take your arms up into a cactus shape. Look to the right. Let gravity do the work as you rest there and breath. Repeat on the other side or as often as you feel is….*ahem* needed.
Happy (food) baby.
Still lying on the floor, bend your knees up into your chest but this time take them further apart so they’re moving more towards your armpits than your chest. Either stay in this version, or bend the knees and turn the feet up to the ceiling. Reach up and hold each foot, gently drawing the knees further down towards the armpits. It’s not glamorous but it’s good!
Sniffing out the treats.
Come to rest on your knees. Bring the big toes together but take the knees apart. Lower yourself down onto the floor, allowing you belly to rest between the knees. Reach your arms out towards the front of the mat. If that’s not comfortable, rest your forehead on a block or stack your hands and use them as a pillow. Pause here; breathe. And maybe have a little think about what your next snack should be.
Chocolates on the floor; chocolates on the shelf.
Rest your right knee on the floor and step your left foot forwards. Place your right hand down on the floor inside your left foot. Think of twisting from behind your food baby (around your belly button), push down through your hand and feel how that opens you up across your chest. Reach the left hand up, imagining your favourite chocolate hanging just out of reach. Repeat on the other side.
Poised for pooping.
Take yourself into a squatting position. If your heels can’t comfortably reach the floor, rest them on a rolled-up yoga mat, or prop with a folded blanket. Keep your spine as long as possible. Bring the hands into prayer and gently use the backs of the elbows to keep the knees rolling apart. Think of lifting your heart and allowing your tail bone to drop down towards the earth. You might like to know that this is the favoured position for pooping in many parts of the world, so it’s obviously a good one to get stuff….umm…moving.
Keeping an eye on the kitchen.
Come to sit. Keep the left leg straight, bend the right and place the foot flat on the floor. Place your left hand behind you and try to rest lightly on the finger tips. Use the back of your right elbow against the inside of your right knee to gently encourage the torso to twist. By twisting this way, instead of the ‘usual’ version of twisting towards the bent leg, there’s plenty of space for the food baby. You can also keep an eye on the kitchen in case someone else goes for the best snacks.
Rest both knees on the floor, hip width apart. Prop your feet up on your toes. Start with your hands on your lower back. Inhale and lift up and lengthen through your spine. Exhale, push your belly button forward and let your head gently drop back. If you can, reach down and place your hands on your heels. Keep the feeling of pushing your beautiful full belly forward, as you feel long through the front and back lines of your body.
The rib un-sticker.
This one takes a bit of preparation. I’ve used a rolled-up yoga mat with a cushion over it, but a tightly-rolled blanket would also work (even better is a real bolster!). Kneel down and put whatever you’re using up against your tail-bone. Slowly lower yourself down so that the bolster is lying along your spine. You can either take the arms up over your head, or let them rest down by your sides. Be very kind to your knees; try and keep the thighs in parallel lines. Stay there and breathe.
Food coma with cushions.
You’ll need the bolster from the previous pose for this one too, and another pillow. Lie down and bring the soles of the feet together, with legs bent. Position a pillow under each knee so the legs are comfortable. Take your rolled up yoga mat (or blanket) and position it so that it’s across your back, lying just at the bottom of your shoulder blades. Drape yourself over it, either with arms up over your head or down by your side if that’s uncomfortable. Relax, breathe, smile and be grateful.
Well done. Now go have an After Eight and some Baileys.