Whilst Christmas day is a time to let loose and indulge a little, for those of us with sensitive stomachs it can be a particularly stressful time of year. Whilst attempting to avoid the painful symptoms associated with IBS or general stomach sensitivity can be managed by going easy on the foods you have found to be problematic, let’s face it, for the sake of soul food, sometimes we all want to (and should!) eat that extra slice of Christmas pudding without having to endure a stomach flare up. If you’re someone who has a sensitive stomach, then turn to these 5 yoga poses and show your tummy some love.
Cat-Cow Pose (Bitilasana)
One of our favourite poses for relieving built up tension in the abdominal area, Cat-Cow Pose is a great one to practise if your stomach is feeling tight and digestion sluggish.
How to do it: Begin in tabletop position on the floor. Inhale, making sure your back is flat and your abs engaged. Exhale, drop your head and round up your spine into cat pose. On your next inhale; arch your back, lifting your head and bottom for cow pose. Switch between the two poses for 5 rounds, making sure to connect your inhale with cow pose and exhale with cat pose.
Knees Hugged to Chest (Apanasana)
One of our all-time favourites, if you’re feeling particularly gassy or bloated this pose is a must-try.
How to do it: Lie down on your yoga mat, taking the time to relax and breathe for a moment before inhaling deeply and placing your hands on your knees. Exhale and gently hug your knees to your chest. Rock your knees from side to side to maximize the stretch. Stay in this position for five to ten long breaths before releasing your knees. Repeat a few times. Make it into a sequence by alternating which leg is pulled into your chest one at a time before returning to the full pose.
Lying Down Body Twist (Natrajasana)
A great all-around stomach soother, think of this exercise as an internal massage for the abdomen and a sure-fire way to get those digestive juices flowing! This is also another great one for relieving gas, bloating and constipation.
How to do it: Lie down on your yoga mat, hug your knees to your chest and inhale. As you exhale, gently drop your knees to the left, turn your head to the right and stretch your arm out in the same direction. Repeat on the other side. Feel free to stay in this position for an equal amount of time on each side for as long as you see fit (5-10 long breaths on either side is a good starting point).
Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)
Soothing to the stomach and a great stress-buster, Seated Forward Bend is a pose that can easily be practised anywhere.
How to do it: Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Keeping your back straight, slowly hinge forward at the hips and lower your torso to line up with your straightened legs. Stay there for 10 deep breaths.
Childs Pose (Balasana)
Another relaxing pose that relieves pressure and tension from your abdomen is Childs Pose, a great pose for massaging the internal organs and helping move things through your digestive tract.
How to do it: Sit on your knees, with your legs slightly apart. Lean forward, stretching your arms out in front of you. Then, keeping your back straight, place your forehead on the floor. To literally give your stomach a soothing massage, taking long deep inhales and exhales whilst gently pushing your abdomen into your legs before drawing it back up and in again. This one is especially helpful if gas is an issue.
Deep Breathing (Pranayama)
Sometimes simply the stress or anxiety associated with the possibility of a symptom flare-up is enough to kick one off! If you’re feeling stressed out or overwhelmed, take a few moments to breathe deeply.
How to do it: Exhale deeply through your nose, then inhale through both nostrils slowly and calmly. Exhale again bringing particular emphasis to the out breath. Repeat 5-10 times. For an added boost of inner calm, try legs up the wall pose, an amazing calmer for the nervous system for 5 minutes before your Christmas dinner to enter the eating space in the calmest way possible.
Read more: Yoga Nidra – Stress-Reducing, Sleep-Inducing