With the season of excess now upon us, the body will have to work extra hard to digest the rich dishes served up during the holiday festivities.
Here are a few yoga poses that can help limit digestive woes as the festive fun begins, as recommended in "Ma bible du ventre," by digestion disorder specialist Danièle Festy and endocrinologist and nutritionist Pierre Nys.
Stretching the body into an unusual position can benefit the digestive system and stimulate movements in the gut. The camel pose involves kneeling on the floor then reaching backward – arching the back – to grab hold of your heels with your hands.
This action creates an abdominal massage that reduces fat deposits. However, the pose should be avoided in cases of hernia, sciatica, back pain or recent stomach surgery. The half camel is an easier option for beginners. Kneeling down, lean backward and place your hands on your lower back while looking up at the ceiling.
Half spinal twist
As well as working on spine mobility, the half spinal twist gives organs like the pancreas, the liver and the intestines a good internal massage. The pose can be helpful for problems relating to constipation or digestion.
Sitting on the floor (on a yoga mat), place your right foot over your left thigh. Next, bring your right arm behind the body and, while breathing out, turn your body and neck to the right while looking straight ahead behind you.
The cobra pose is good for tackling constipation and favouring digestion. Lie down on your front with your body and legs straight and your feet together. Place your hands level with your chest and, while breathing in, gradually raise your upper body until your navel no longer touches the floor. Keep looking upwards. Then, lower your body back down onto the floor slowly while breathing out.
Half locust pose
The half locust pose can be useful for getting rid of fat around the thighs while also helping prevent indigestion and constipation. Lie down on your stomach with your arms alongside your body and your forehead on the floor. Breathe in and place your chin on the floor. Look forwards and breathe out.
On the next breath in, raise your right leg while keeping it straight – don't bend your knee or ankle. Make sure you keep your hips straight too (parallel with the floor). Keep the rest of the body stable, straight and above all relaxed. Hold your leg in the air for a few seconds, without forcing the muscles too much, then lower it gently back down to the ground and repeat with the left leg.
Seated forward bend
The liver, kidneys, pancreas and ovaries are among the organs that benefit from this pose. The forward bend has a positive effect on digestion and appetite. The aim is to rest your torso on your legs, stretched out straight in front of you, while holding your toes. If you can't reach your toes, hold onto your legs at the furthest point you can reach, then lean forward as much as possible.