@KarlaTafra Nov 22, 2022, 9:30 am EST | 6 min read
Thanksgiving involves plenty of delicious food, but it may cause some digestive issues and bloating, especially if you aren’t used to eating some of the ingredients on the regular. Sometimes the best thing you can do to relieve those unpleasant symptoms is to move your body.
Walking or stretching it out after a heavy meal can help improve your digestion, so here are some of the best stretches you can do after your Thanksgiving dinner.
Lie on your back and bring your knees in toward your chest, hugging them tightly and feeling your entire spine on the floor. Gently massage your back muscles by rocking side to side, and when you’re ready, come back to a still position.
Separate your legs and grab your feet from the inside, pushing your legs down, your knees outside your torso. At the same time, kick your feet into your hands. This dual stretch will help open your knees and hips while at the same time allowing your lower back muscles to fully expand and stretch toward the floor.
Take a few long inhales and exhales here and as you feel your back muscle relax, you’ll notice how much more space you’re creating for your stomach and intestines, stimulating a healthy flow. You can stay here or slowly rock side to side to include a gentle lower back massage. Stay for at least three to five long inhales and exhales.
Lie on your back and bend your knees, keeping your feet flat on the floor. Your feet should be at a hip-width distance and parallel, so you prevent your knees from opening up when you start lifting your hips. Place your palms on the floor next to your sitting bones and on your inhale, lift your hips up as high as they will go. Stretch your arms straight up and feel the fire sensation activating your hips and glutes.
This position expands your thighs, hip flexors, and your entire abdomen, allowing your intestines to expand naturally. This helps food to be pushed down more efficiently, improving your digestion and speeding up the breakdown. Stay here for two to four long inhales and exhales before gently bringing your spine back to the floor. You can repeat the whole stretch two more times for an even greater effect.
Inversions are actually considered great for digestive issues and constipation as they help bring blood back toward your stomach, improving the rate of food breakdown. Still, they are usually not the most comfortable straight after dinner, so you might want to wait for a few hours before you lift your legs over your head.
Lie on your back and lift your legs vertically into the air. Stay here and feel your lower back expand on the floor, allowing more space for your intestines. You can remain in this position and simply enjoy the positive effect of your legs lifted, or you can take it a step further and lift your hips up. Grab your pelvis from below to support it and let your legs extend straight up.
If this feels too intense, you can always bend your knees and make the pose more compact. This compression will gently massage your abdomen and stimulate your intestines to push food down your digestive tract. Stay for three to five long breath cycles and gently relax your body down to your mat.
Great for lounging at home or doing a gentle yoga session.
Lie on your back and bring your knees toward your chest, hugging them tightly. Leave your left leg bent and extend your right leg down. Grab your left knee with your right hand and cross it over your body, twisting to the right. Gaze to the left and feel your intestines massaged with every inhale and exhale. Don’t push it so let your body dictate how deep your twist will be. Stay for three inhales and exhales and then come back to the center.
Bring your right leg to meet your left and stretch the left leg down. Grab your right knee with your left hand and cross it over to the left, gazing to the right. Stay the same amount of time on this side and slowly return to the center.
Supported Side Plank Stretch
Come to a plank position and bring your knees down to the floor. Leave your right palm pressed firmly into the floor and turn to the left, opening your body to the side. Lift your left arm up, stretching through the palm, and extend your left leg so your left foot is firmly pressed into the floor. Stretch up and open your left arm, extending it over your head so it makes a straight line down your torso and left hip all the way to your foot.
This will stretch your side body and abdomen, allowing your intestines to expand naturally. Take three to five long inhales and exhales before repeating it all on the other side.
Support your knees during exercises.
Low Lunge Twist
Come into a runner’s lunge, your right foot right under your chest and your left leg fully extended behind you. Place your left knee into the mat and lift your torso up. Place your palms above your right knee and push your leg away from you so you stretch your hips and get deep into your right hamstring. Stay here for a few moments, feeling your abdomen expand and relax.
Stay here if you want and focus on your breath, or place your left palm on the floor and twist to the right, lifting your right arm straight into the sky, and adding a gentle massage. Stay for three to five inhales and exhales and then repeat everything on the other side, starting with a low lunge stretch.
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Another great pose that expands your abdomen and creates space for your intestines is the camel pose. Start in a kneeling position and lift your hips. Place your palms on your lower back and on your inhale, push your hips forward, stretching your thighs and opening your anterior side of the body.
Exhale and gently bring your head back, allowing for the full expression of the pose. Stay here for a few breaths and then slowly bring your chin to your chest, and sit down on your heels. Repeat two more times.
Perform these easy and gentle stretches after every heavy meal and notice an improvement in your digestion, energy, and even sleep. And, no matter what you do, keep your stress down.