Picture this: Loved ones are gathered around the table, about to dig into the holiday feast. It’s a swirling, nostalgic moment as you remember years past and anticipate consuming the abundant spread of food spread before you. Fast forward half an hour and you’ve had a tad more than your fill. In fact, you couldn’t eat another bite, and as you lay alongside the bloated post-dinner casualties in the living room, your stomach is now wishing you’d stopped a good ten minutes earlier.
The ecstasy of the holiday meal is fused with the agony of an overfull stomach. Where was all your yogic moderation? What to do now?
Fortunately, yoga has a few tricks up its sleeve for exactly this sort of occasion. Heaven knows, for all your hurting, you’re not likely to eat any less next holiday dinner, so here’s a posture that will alleviate the burden on your gut for such seemingly inevitable occasions.
This reclining version of Baddha Konasana, commonly known as Bound Angle or Butterfly Pose, will elongate your side body, giving your organs space to accommodate the overload. For your purposes, except for your focus on a gentle elongation of the spine and side body, this pose will be completely passive. These arethe holidays, after all.
I’ll walk you through it:
1. Grab a chip foam block for each hip (two if you’re stiff there) and a rectangular or cylindrical bolster to lie back on. You can also use a folded blanket to give you a little lift under the head if you’d like. (The photo above shows what this looks like minus the blocks and blanket.)
If you end up doing this after dinner at someone else’s place, sofa cushions and blankets will work just fine. Have your props within arm’s reach.
2. Lay your bolster down on your mat or the floor. If you’re using a mat, place the bolster in the middle, long side running parallel with the long side of your mat.
Sit on your mat with the soles of your feet flat on the floor, your knees bent up towards the ceiling. Position the edge of bolster or cushion roughly four inches behind your sacrum.
3. Lie back onto the cushion with your knees still bent. Roll your sacrum towards your feet and lay your legs out away from you so you’re roughly in Savasana.
4. Touch the soles of your feet together, with your knees splayed out to the sides. Rest here with a long spine and let your body relax for at least ten minutes.
This will give your organs some much needed space to expand into and process all that food. If reclining this horizontally doesn’t feel good, you can always build up the height behind your back with another bolster lying crosswise, cushions and/or blankets – whatever feels best.
Che Nolan is a propologist with a major in bolsterology and an Iyengar yoga practitioner with a daily meditation practice. He’s also a writer and a regular Halfmoon contributor.
Gratitude is an attitude that can be cultivated not only around Thanksgiving for blessings in our lives, but during each moment of life — towards ourselves! Our brains are programmed to protect and to survive, and when we live a life out in the world it is nearly impossible to avoid feelings of self-judgment or unworthiness.