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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.
If you’ve ever taken a hot yoga class, you know it’s always going to be one thing—outrageously hot. Not the “let’s hang by the pool and get that sun-kissed glow” kind of hot either. I’m talking that “I can't believe I have this much sweat in my body” and “I may or may not pass out” kind of hot. It’s nothing to mess around with, and after a year or so of not being able to go, it’s easy to forget just how serious that heat can be.
To get the maximum enjoyment and benefits out of your heated yoga classes, you need to prepare yourself before and take care of yourself afterward. Luckily, I’ve been taking some classes (sweating enough for the both of us) and I’ve listed my five favorite must-dos to help you readjust to your heated classes and get back to the hot yoga summer that we all want.
Heated classes are difficult in nature. The normal difficulty of regular poses is mixed in with the added challenges of sweating and dealing with the humidity and the heat (at times, I’ve seen the thermostat climb to 108 degrees—yikes!). Depending on what type of yoga class you’re taking (sculpt, Bikram, power vinyasa), the difficulty level and temperature are going to vary. It’s also important to remember that each person in the room is going to practice in a way that’s unique to them. Hours slept, hydration levels, food intake, and different lifestyles are all contributing factors that make our practices different. What you practice on your mat is your own––trust your body and only do what feels right to you. And remember, it’s okay to take breaks!
The rise in temperature mixed in with the humidity that we all know and love creates the perfect recipe for sweating—like A LOT. You go into a heated class dry and come out feeling like you just took a dip in the pool. Before heated classes, I had no idea it was physically possible to sweat that much. If you’re going to a heated class, especially after a long break, it’s easy to forget just how much you might sweat. Is it possible to lose that much water if you haven’t consumed it first? Trust me, going into your heated class super hydrated is going to make a world of difference and help you feel good throughout your practice. And don’t forget to take some sips of H2O while you’re practicing!
Heated classes are challenging, but I can’t stop going. Nothing quite compares to overcoming the challenge— and experiencing the cleanse my body feels after I’m done. It’s the perfect blend of hard and rewarding, but I couldn’t do it if my body wasn’t properly nourished. On the days I know I have a heated class booked; I like to make sure I am eating right. I make sure to take my vitamins and fuel my body with fruits, vegetables, and my favorite superfood shake. I hold off on food about an hour before my practice, so I feel comfortable. After the class, I like to replenish with a big protein shake (boosted with collagen to aid with muscle recovery and skin elasticity). There is no one-way path for properly nourishing your body but making sure you’re fueled for the challenge of a heated class is essential for getting the most out of your practice and feeling good on and off your mat.
Increasing and maintaining your water intake on the days you take a heated class is important, but sometimes you need something a little extra. If you’re sweating that much, you’re basically an athlete (at least in my book) and if you’re performing like a rockstar yogi, you need to hydrate like one as well. That means replenishing those lost electrolytes. Reward yourself and your body for the hard work and treat yourself to your favorite drink. I switch off between electrolyte-boosting drinks and coconut water depending on what I’m in the mood for that day. Adding these to my post-practice self-care routine has helped me feel more hydrated after and ready to take on the world again after especially sweaty classes.
Usually, a yoga mat is all you need for your practice––but heated classes are a different ballgame. I’ve gone with just a mat, and I’ve slipped all over the place. Let me tell you, there’s nothing worse than having sweat drip all over the place while you’re trying to hold a pose that makes you grip your mat for dear life (never again). Make sure you bring a towel to place over your mat, this will help with support and grip. Bringing a smaller towel is also a good idea. You can use the smaller towel to dry yourself off during water breaks or whenever you’re feeling just a bit too sweaty. This is a small step that makes a world of difference during those super-hot classes.
So, there you have it. Five of my favorite tips (more like lifesavers) that have helped me readjust to those heated classes I love so much. Getting back into it is a challenge for us all, so know you’re not alone. No matter where you’re at in your practice, remember to be kind and gentle to yourself––celebrating your health and your body’s ability to do what you love. We’re all just getting back out there, together.
Ready to jump back into your hot yoga routine? Browse Mindbody to find the perfect class for you.
While you’re at it, check out some Intro Offers near you that can help you get back to your cadence of hot yoga classes.