It's at about 6 p.m. on the night of Thanksgiving, while I'm enjoying my annual viewing of Miracle on 34th Street, that the turkey-and-pie bloat begins to descend upon my body in all its glory. While some people go for a nice walk to start the digestion process, I usually have less than zero interest in moving from my living room. I'd much rather do some stretches for bloating right from my own dang couch when I need a little relief.
Yes, you read that correctly. I have developed a way to both stretch my body and potentially help the process of my digestion, all while continuing to stay in full holiday relaxation mode. Sometimes I even go next-level with my hedonism, despite how counterproductive it may seem, and I keep a little plate of pecan pie next to me so I can reach for a bite between stretches.
If you're like me and your plan this Thanksgiving holiday is also to stay relatively inert, at least for a few hours — while still combatting what my father always referred to as the "turkey tummy mulligrubs" — then feel free to borrow a few of these stretches. Because doing next to nothing is what the holiday seasion is all about, amirite?
1. Supine Spinal Twist
Ah, a couch version of your classic spinal twist. Starting on your back, keep your legs straight in front of you. Bend the leg that's closest to the back of the couch, then draw and cross it over your body. Keep both shoulders grounded. Switch sides by laying your head at the opposite side of the couch.
Feel the bloat relief yet?
2. Lift And Loosen The Legs
Lie straight on your back — still on the couch, of course — and place your palms down next to you. Simply flex your left foot, and stretch the heel toward the wall, then repeat the movement on the right. Repeat on each side, lifting each leg, heel still flexed, five times through.
To top it off, scoot your butt forward so your lower back is supported against the couch, and lift both legs. Now just shake shake shake them, and send some blood to that full stomach of yours.
3. Relieve-The-Wind Pose
They call this the wind-relieving pose for a reason friends, although it's also sometimes referred to as happy baby pose, because you bring both bent legs out to the side while keeping your lower back flush to the floor (or couch), much like a giggling, adorable little baby.
For a different sensation, try grabbing your big toes and gently press down. It's supposed to be a great for your stuffed stomach!
4. Couch Cobra
Get on your belly, and extend your legs straight out behind you. Take care with your lower back, and make sure you're comfortable. I personally find it helpful to concentrate on gently tucking my tailbone underneath me.
Placing your hands directly beneath your shoulders, gently raise your heart forward and up, eventually extending your arms and stretching the whole front body as far as feels comfortable.
And yes, you can always roll off the couch and do this one on the floor if it feels better to do so — but only if you have the energy after all that food.
5. Pillow Belly
Remaining on your stomach, grab yourself a decorative pillow, or a tightly rolled-up throw blanket. You'll want some firmness to whatever pillow or blanket mound you use. Place that sucker right below your diaphragm, or slightly lower onto your stomach, then relax your body and lay down over it. You should feel a bit of light pressure on your stomach. It shouldn't be painful, but it can be slightly uncomfortable for a minute, especially on a bloated belly. Overall, this move will help to stretch your stomach muscles and make a little room in there.
And yes, you may hear a few gut rumbles in the process.
6. Over The Head And Side To Side
Simply sit crosslegged on the couch for this move. Once you're there, stretch both arms directly overhead. Really reach as though you're just waking up in the morning and shaking off the cobwebs. Bring your right arm down, keeping the left one overhead, and steady yourself with your right palm as you stretch along your side body, keeping your butt and sit bones on the couch. Switch sides whenever you're ready.
OK, friends — now who's ready for second dinner?