This Boston yogi gives us her go-to moves.
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During the Christmas season, many of us indulge in rich, heavy foods that aren’t always tummy-friendly, leaving us feeling quite unwell and unable to enjoy the holidays to the full!
So, to help improve your digestion over the festive period, we’ve put together five simple, but effective tips to get you ready for the new year and feeling healthier than ever!
Gentle yoga and stretching are not only relaxing and suitable for all levels of flexibility, but also great for improving digestion, easing bloating and helping with constipation. It can relieve tension and give your organs more space to relax. Not only does it have physical health benefits, but the moving meditation of yoga helps mentally too; allowing us to let go of the stresses of the holiday season, such as cooking for the in-laws, that can play havoc on our tummies!
Want to try a yoga position that promotes digestion? Nahid de Belgeonne from Good Vibes recommends the ‘Cat/Cow’ pose, which stretches muscles of the hips, back, and abdomen, whilst stimulating the organs and gastrointestinal tract. Nahid explains:
“Get on all fours with your wrists under your shoulders, knees under hips, begin to breathe in as you lift your breastbone to the front of the room. Have a sense of stretching the skin from the pubis to the throat, and then exhale as you round your spine up towards the ceiling; feel as if you are stretching the skin from the tailbone to the crown of the head. Do this a few times, gently stretching your tummy out.”
It’s healthy to put time aside to focus on yourself, so ask Santa to bring you a gift card for a professional massage this year! Massages not only feel great, but also improves our internal health. According to several studies, getting an abdominal massage can accelerate your digestion, ease abdominal pain, stop uncomfortable bloating and relieve constipation. Third helping of turkey, anyone?
Over the festive season, social calendars are packed and late nights are inevitable, so quality sleep is probably going to be a low priority. Your gut might feel the effects, but there are key sleeping positions that can help improve the gut’s happiness. Sleeping on the left side, for example, helps to prevent heartburn at night and improves digestion, as it encourages food to move along easily from the small intestine to the large.
Acupuncture may not seem like a solution to digestive health issues, but this ancient Chinese method can help to treat many digestive disorders including bacterial infections, heartburn, lactose intolerance, inflammatory conditions and more. It’s recommended that even those who are not phased by tiny needles should do their research on this before booking in a session though, to make sure its suitable for them.
Want to try it out for yourself at home? The Life Centre shows you how:
“The acupoint Stomach 36 is often used to strengthen weak digestion and improve digestive disorders, ranging from constipation to diarrhea, gas, bloating, vomiting, and nausea. It can also boost the immune system and strengthen overall energy. To locate the acupoint, slightly bend your leg and place four fingers just below the kneecap. Begin with the index finger at the base of the kneecap. The point is where the little finger rests, on the outside aspect of the hard shinbone. Feel around for the tender spot.”
Recent research in MINDBODY’s ‘Wellness Index’ found that downtime takes a backseat for many of us, with the nation getting fewer than nine hours of headspace a week! We can often let daily stresses (especially during the holiday season) build up, meaning that when we’re stressed or anxious our bodies resort to the ‘fight or flight’ response, which results in abdominal discomfort and temporary digestive problems. Finding a bit of time to clear your head could help.
If you need encouragement, use the easy search filters in the MINDBODY app to find a studio near you offering guided meditation. Meditation doesn’t necessarily mean you must be sat cross-legged in a (yoga) studio though, it’s whatever makes you feel comfortable. This could be cooking, coloring or simply taking a five-minute break to focus on your inward and outward breathing.
When you think of self-love what do you think of? Bubble baths, walks on the beach, facemasks, or what? Self-love can mean so many different things but when we think about self-love, we have to acknowledge loving ourselves both on the outside and on the inside. The way that we show ourselves love is one of the most important things we will ever do.
How do we treat ourselves? How do we talk to ourselves? What foods are we putting into our bodies? How are we thinking about our overall well-being when practicing self-love?
As self-love defines and redefined itself for you over the years, here are a few foundational tips to think about when easing into your self-love journey.
Don’t we love this one? Loving ourselves has a lot to do with the boundaries that we have for ourselves, with others, and for others. Take time to think about your own emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual needs when setting boundaries that reflect your personal needs. Boundaries don’t have to be big and scary; they are here to remind us that you get to have your lived experience and still have expectations about how you’d like to be treated and what you’d like to feel.
When thinking about your boundaries, ask yourself:
In a world where perfectionism and curated existences have been rewarded, begin to cultivate compassion for yourself. You are a soul having a human experience and it’s totally okay if things are not perfect.
Mindfulness exercises such as Breathwork, self-care activities, and self-compassion, all help train the mind, emotions, and even the body’s stress chemicals to be able to deal with undesired situations. Self-compassion means, can you be nice to yourself? Can you find empathy and kindness for yourself in the middle of what feels chaotic, stressful, or unwanted? Self-compassion means that we get to make mistakes, have our plans not work out the way that we wanted, and we still get to celebrate that we are doing the best that we can and it is enough.
When thinking about self-compassion, ask yourself:
In every sense of the word “nourishment”, begin to learn what nourishes you and what depletes you. Nourishment doesn’t just mean food for yourself; it means that whatever you are consuming whether it be media, podcasts, people, energy, information, etc. all impact the way that we think, feel, and experience life.
Nourishing yourself definitely goes right along the lines of having your boundaries intact and practicing self-compassion.
When thinking about nourishment, ask yourself:
That’s it. Those are the foundational steps to cultivating a self-love practice that you can ease into your daily routine. Come back to these questions often, because like anything else, self-love is a practice and it takes effort, time, and intention to maintain.